End-Sept. cumulative deficit falls short of govt program, with spending below target

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 25) — The government's fiscal deficit from January to September widened annually, but data from the Treasury bureau show it's still below the government's program.

Figures published Monday show the gap between state revenues and expenditures ballooned to ₱1.13 trillion, growing by 29.56% compared to the deficit for the same nine-month period last year. However, it is lower by 20.11% than the adjusted ₱1.42-trillion target.

Spending rose to ₱412.4 billion in September, reflecting the ₱10-billion transfer to the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund in line with the coco levy law or Republic Act 11524 according to the agency. This brought the year's expenditures so far to ₱3.37 trillion, representing an 11.7% year-on-year growth but still short of the revised ₱3.56 trillion target for the period.

The bureau mainly cited "lower-than-programmed interest payments" for the outturn. Interest payments stood at ₱4.5 billion in September, a 10.36% climb amid coupon payments and discounts for fixed-rate treasury bonds. These payments amounted to P339.3 billion, 17.82% less than the ₱412.9-billion program.

The Treasury also reported ₱231.4 billion in revenues for September, bringing year-to-date total to ₱2.2 trillion — 4.37% higher than last year's outturn and 4.71% above the period's revised program.

With collections of ₱154.2 billion during the month, the Bureau of Internal Revenue raked in a cumulative total of ₱1.54 trillion. This inched past both its total collection for the same period last year and its year-to-date target worth ₱1.53 trillion.

The Bureau of Customs, meanwhile, hauled ₱57.6 billion during the month. This brought overall collections from January to September to ₱469.8 billion, also higher than its revenues in 2020 and cumulative ₱455.6-billion program.

The Treasury itself earned ₱105.5 billion during the three quarters, lower than its ₱201.6-billion total last year but higher than its adjusted ₱65.3 billion target amid higher dividend remittances, Bond Sinking Fund/Securities Stabilization Fund earnings, and incomes from deposits with the central bank.

Collections from other offices climbed to a cumulative level of ₱104.6 billion, likewise exceeding last year's level and ₱69.7-billion target for January to September 2021.

In a note to reporters, ING Bank senior economist Nicholas Mapa welcomed the "steady" increase in expenditures and revenue collections but noted they could have been "bolstered" by last year's low base.

"However, the widening deficit suggest that the overall debt of the country continues to pile on. Currently the debt-to-GDP ratio is at roughly 63%, beyond the threshold that credit ratings agencies may view as sustainable," Mapa warned.