De Leon sees sustained improvement in PH fiscal position

By Joann Villanueva

July 23, 2018, 7:21 pm

MANILA -- National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon is optimistic of the sustained improvement of the Philippine government’s fiscal position following the 20 percent rise of both the revenues and expenditures in the first half of 2018.

Data released by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) Monday showed that revenues from January to June this year amounted to PHP1.41 trillion, up from year-ago’s PHP1.176 trillion. It is also 8 percent higher than the PHP1.304 trillion programmed for the six-month period.

Of the total, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) contributed PHP964.5 billion, up 14 percent than its PHP848 billion collections same period in 2017.

The agency, which collects about 70 percent of revenues, surpassed by 3 percent its PHP938.7 billion target for the six-month period.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) shared in PHP279.4 billion, 33 percent up from its PHP210.3 billion revenues in end-June last year and 3 percent higher than the agency’s PHP270.3-billion target in the first six months this year.

Tax revenues of the Other Offices in the first six months this year ticked-up by 2 percent year-on-year to PHP10.8 billion but 9 percent lower than its PHP11.9-billion target in the first half this year.

In terms of non-tax revenues, the Other Offices’ contribution rose 64 percent year-on-year to PHP89.7 billion from year-ago’s PHP54.7 billion. Compared to its PHP52.4 billion program for the first half this year, the Other Offices surpassed this by 71 percent.

BTr’s revenues rose by 25 percent year-on-year to PHP66.1 billion against year-ago’s PHP52.7 billion and by 110 percent compared to its PHP31.5 billion target for January to June this year.

Last June alone, BIR’s revenues rose 4 percent year-on-year to PHP136.8 billion and BOC’s by 41 percent to PHP50 billion while the Other Offices registered a 6 percent drop to PHP1.4 billion.

Non-tax revenues by the Other Offices rose 302 percent to PHP28.2 billion, which de Leon attributed to subsidies, and the BTr by 66 percent to PHP7.8 billion.

During the same six-month period this year, government spending totaled to PHP1.603 trillion, up from year-ago’s PHP1.33 trillion.

Expenditures in the first half this year are 2 percent higher compared to the PHP1.569 trillion programmed for the period as the government implements its massive infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build”.

The Duterte administration targets to spend around PHP8 trillion for its infrastructure program to put the necessary roads, bridges and airports, among others, not only in the various metropolis around the country but more in far-flung areas.

Last June, expenditures rose by 3 percent to PHP278.5 billion from year-ago’s PHP270.7 billion, which de Leon pointed to base effect.

Amid the uptick in general expenditures, she pointed out that interest payments in the first six months this year is 4 percent lower than the PHP173 billion programmed for the period.

Finance officials have repeatedly traced this to government’s continued fiscal management activities which allow it to get new loans at lower yields.

De Leon says her hopefulness for the continued improvement of government's fiscal standing is rooted in reforms that continue to be put in place.

“We see that this revenue performance of both BIR and BOC will be sustained so we are now in a very good position to calibrate our borrowings given that the performance, the collection of the two agencies will allow us to be able to calibrate and also not accept all the bids (during the auctions of debt papers) at outrageous rates if ever that would be offered by the market,” she added. (PNA)