Aquino gov't fails to meet spending targets by 66%

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT. In an effort to address underspending in 2014, the government earlier says it would increase infrastructure investments by 4% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015. File photo by Francis Malasig / EPA

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT. In an effort to address underspending in 2014, the government earlier says it would increase infrastructure investments by 4% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015.

File photo by Francis Malasig / EPA

MANILA, Philippines – The Aquino administration continued to underspend in the first quarter, that the budget deficit of the national government for the period fell below target by 66%.

Underspending has been cited as a factor that dragged the Philippine economy's growth in recent years. The government will announce the first quarter economic performance on Thursday, May 28.

Data released on Monday, May 25, by the Department of Finance (DOF) showed the deficit in the first quarter stood at P33.5 billion ($751.64 million), P64.6 billion ($1.45 billion) lower versus the P98.1 billion ($2.2 billion) target for the period.

To address underspending in 2014, the government earlier said it would increase infrastructure investments by 4% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015. The early enactment of the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is seen to fuel this year’s public spending through infrastructure programs.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad also earlier said that government expenditure is "on the right track" for 2015.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has yet to release a statement on the previous quarter’s lower than programmed expenditures.

Revenue collection

The budget deficit for the previous quarter is also significantly less than the P84.1 billion ($1.89 billion) shortfall recorded for the same period in 2014 as revenue collection outpaced expenditure growth.

The national government's disbursements totaled P504 billion ($11.30 billion) in the first quarter, only a 4% increase from the 2014 level and 13% below target of P582.2 billion ($13.05 million) for the period.

Interest payments, which comprise 20% of the total expenditures for the quarter, have gone down by 2% or P2.5 billion ($56.06 million) year-on-year.

Interest payments amounted to P100.6 billion ($2.26 billion) in the first quarter, largely on track with the P100.5 billion ($2.25 billion) target.

Meanwhile, total revenue collection for the first quarter of 2015 reached P470.5 billion ($10.55 billion), P72.8 billion ($1.63 billion) or 18% higher compared to 2014.

The January to March revenue collections were short by 3% or P13.6 billion ($304.93 million), against the first quarter program of P484.1 billion ($10.85 billion).

The Bureau of Internal Revenue's (BIR) collections for the previous quarter amounted to P307.1 billion ($6.89 billion), 9% below the P338.1 billion ($7.58 billion) government target. However, BIR saw a year-on-year increase of 16%.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC), meanwhile, generated P92.29 billion ($2.07 billion), 11% below its target for the first quarter of P103.4 billion ($2.32 billion). The agency's collections were 7% higher than its revenues in the same period in 2014.

"Despite lower oil prices, BOC collections still managed to continue growing. The key is always to look at the overall trend lines – and for the recent years they have kept moving on up," Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

Meanwhile, income from the Bureau of the Treasury amounted to P37.87 billion ($849.40 million), more than double the P16.7 billion ($374.23 million) target for the period, an 81% increase from a year ago, due to higher interest income from deposits and bond holdings as well as dividend collections. – Rappler.com

$1 = P44.63