Slower spending pushes budget balance to ₱4.93-B surplus in April

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — The national government posted a budget surplus of ₱4.93-billion in April as public spending was tepid amid faster growth of state revenues, Bureau of the Treasury data released Friday show.

It is a reversal of the ₱44.42 billion deficit logged in the same month last year and is the first surplus since June 2020, when the excess stood at ₱1.76 billion. A budget surplus happens when government collects more than it spends.

Government expenditure for April mildly grew 1.98%, settling at ₱343.01 billion. This is lower than the ₱481.53 billion authorities spent in March, when expenditure growth hit 18.14%.

April revenue collection, meanwhile, rose 19.19% from the same month a year ago, hitting ₱348 billion with all collecting agencies registering positive results.

In a recent report, the Department of Budget and Management said that state spending was expected to slacken in April and May due to the 45-day election expenditure ban.

This ban “could have also led to the unusual reduction/slowdown” in disbursements for the month, said RCBC chief economist Michael Ricafort.

The Treasury likewise reported interest payments stood at ₱37.3 billion, up 56.61% while other expenditures fell 2.18% to ₱305.7 billion.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue posted a net collection of ₱239.6 billion, up 9.39% year-on-year.

Ricafort noted the seasonal increase in tax revenue collections, adding measures to further re-open the economy may have also aided collection efforts.

Earnings of the Bureau of Customs grew 26.82% to ₱65.7 billion amid “improved valuation, intensified enforcement against illegal importations, and the improved compliance by traders to customs laws,” the Treasury added.

The Treasury itself reported a ₱25.7 billion income, more than doubling its ₱9 billion earnings last year. It attributed the higher figure to higher dividend remittances, income from the Basic Sinking Fund investment, and national government share from the income of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Collections from other offices amounted to ₱15.4 billion, higher by 37.53% from April 2021 figures primarily because of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s higher remittance of disposition proceeds.

Despite the latest surplus, the government’s cumulative budget balance is still at a ₱311.9 billion deficit. However, the deficity is down 14.75% annually.

The Treasury likewise reported that the fiscal deficit as of the first quarter is equivalent to 6.43% of gross domestic product, easing from the 7.35% from January to March 2021.