Spending boost widens fiscal deficit in Feb., first two months

A surge in spending drove the government’s fiscal position into deficit in February that was more than double the year-ago gap, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced.

February saw a Php61.7-billion budget gap in February that was 160% bigger than the Php23.7 billion recorded in the same month in 2017. Revenues were up 18% that month to Php178.5 billion from last year’s Php151.8 billion. Of this amount, tax revenues increased 17% to Php163.2 billion from Php139 billion.

The government’s top tax bureaus saw double-digit collection increases, with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) collecting Php116.6 billion, 10% more than last year’s Php105.9 billion, while the Bureau of Customs (BoC) recorded a 42% jump to Php43.7 billion from Php30.9 billion.

In a press briefing, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno credited Republic Act No. 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law – which provided largely for cuts in personal income, estate and donors taxes; removal of some value-added tax exemptions; an increase in automobile, fuel, tobacco, coal and mineral taxes, and a new levy on sugar-sweetened drinks – for February’s bigger collections.

February saw non-tax revenues grow 19% to Php15.3 billion from Php12.9 billion. Of that amount, the Treasury bureau raised Php5.9 billion, up 10% from Php5.3 billion, while other offices saw a bigger 25% increase in revenues to Php9.4 billion from Php7.5 billion.