TAX COLLECTIONS and government disbursements continued to surge in April, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.
Citing preliminary estimates from the Bureau of the Treasury, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a message to reporters on Wednesday: “April performance: BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) collections grew 13%; BoC (Bureau of Customs) by 43%.”
National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon, meanwhile, confirmed the growth rates, saying in a separate message that the BIR collected P209.8 billion last month, up from P184.9 billion a year earlier.
The BoC collected P46.9 billion in April, up from P32.8 billion a year earlier.
Mr. Dominguez also said that “disbursements increased by 40%” to P225.8 billion.
The latest rise in BIR collections accelerated from the March growth rate of 12%, and under the 14% first-quarter average.
BoC’s April performance outpaced both the 21% collection growth recorded in March and the 25% average growth logged in the first three months.
Overall expenditure growth in April, meanwhile, accelerated from the 30% rise in March and the 27% first-quarter average.
Mr. Dominguez said in the first week of May, collections from the BIR “grew by 342%,” year on year, and “BoC by 43%,” while disbursements were up “56%.”
Sought for comment, Security Bank Corp. economist Angelo B. Taningco said that the tax bureau’s strong collections “have embodied TRAIN’s excise tax provisions,” referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) that hiked excise tax rates for automobiles, minerals, tobacco and fuel; as well as imposed new excise levies on sugar-sweetened beverages, while reduced personal income taxes and estate and donor tax rates, but removed some value-added tax exemptions.
“Also, I think the strong disbursements growth for the month are associated with better utilization of the national budget — especially since DBM has been gearing for cash-based budgeting — and more robust public infrastructure spending,” he added.
“Overall, I expect that both revenue and expenditure by the government will likely exceed their quarterly targets throughout the year,” Mr. Taningco said.
Union Bank of the Philippines’ Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion] said that “any positive growth from the BIR and BoC collections are almost always good because it means more revenue for the government,” and that disbursements are “on schedule since it is barely half of 2018.”
According to the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) 2018 fiscal program, total revenue is expected to hit P2.846 trillion this year. Of this amount, the BIR is expected to raise P2.074 trillion, and the BoC P581 billion.
The DBCC said that revenue this year will be driven by the TRAIN law Package 1A — the tax hikes introduced in January — as well as Package 1B that covers the estate and general tax amnesty, the relaxation of bank secrecy laws, and automatic exchange of information even though it is still pending in Congress. Package 1B is expected to pass by the middle of the year.
Overall disbursements, meanwhile, are projected to hit P3.37 trillion this year, which will be driven by the government’s infrastructure program, according to the DBCC.
The budget deficit is expected to come in at P523.7 billion this year, at the 3% equivalent of gross domestic product considered prudent for government spending. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan