Deficit widens to P116B in Feb

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    The national government’s budget deficit widened to P116 billion in February as expenditures posted a double-digit hike during the said month, data released by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed.

    According to the BTr’s latest cash operations report, the government’s budget deficit in February was more than three times the P37.6 billion recorded a year ago.

    While revenue collections grew during the period, the growth in expenditures significantly outpaced it, year-on-year.

    This drove the year-to-date deficit to P130 billion for the two-month period,

    far above the P14.6 billion recorded a year ago.

    Government expenditures surged in February by 37.27 percent to P335.5 billion from P244.4 billion a year ago, as both primary expenditures and interest payments increased for the month.

    Nearly 91 percent of the total spending or P304.4 billion went to primary expenditures, growing by 32.87 percent from P229.1 billion recorded a year ago.

    The BTr said this includes equity releases to the Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines and the Philippine Guarantee Corp. amounting to P45 billion for various credit guarantee and lending programs to support industries or sectors affected by the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

    Interest payments for the month almost doubled to P31.2 billion from P15.4 billion in February last year, mainly due to coupon payments for the retail treasury bonds issued in 2020 and additional interest payments for the euro bonds issued in February last year, the BTr said.

    The February performance drove year-to-date total disbursements to P610.3 billion, which reflects an 18.27 percent expansion compared to the same period in 2020.

    Meanwhile, revenue collection in February grew 6.15 percent to P219.6 billion from the P206.8 billion recorded in the same month last year.

    Total year-to-date revenue of P480.3 billion, however, still contracted by 4.22 percent, as the BTr said collections have yet to fully recuperate from a slow start to the year as well as the timing of dividend remittances.

    Collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) notched an 8.39 percent growth for the month which reached P154.1 billion.

    This brought the two-month take for the BIR roughly even with last year’s level with P336.3 billion.

    Similarly, the Bureau of Customs improved its performance in February as it managed a 5.35 percent expansion to P47.2 billion.

    However, year-to-date collection was still down 6.17 percent to P94.5 billion.

    Income by the BTr was lower by 22.09 percent to P4.6 billion for the month, which the agency said was due to lower collection from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and investment income.

    As of end-February, BTr collection also declined by 32.19 percent to P23.2 billion as remittances remained muted, particularly dividends and national government’s share from Pagcor income.

    Lastly, February collections from other offices, which include privatization proceeds and fees and charges, slightly increased by 1.37 percent to P16.7 billion. This brought the collections two months into the year at P21.1 billion, 12.3 percent lower year-on-year.