ECONOMIC MANAGERS have set lower fiscal deficit ceiling this year, slashing it to P610 billion from P624.37 billion previously.

Despite the revised figure, they kept the programmed budget deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio at 3.2% this year until 2022, according to the updated medium-term fiscal program for fiscal year 2019-2022 as of Dec. 11.

In a mobile phone message, Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said the narrower budget gap assumption is due to lower projected nominal GDP of P18.779 trillion against the P19.219 trillion set in the July 18 meeting of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). “The DBCC took note of developments for the year and lower inflation but still believes a six percent growth is possible for the year,” Ms. Pascua explained.

The updated fiscal program was set during the DBCC’s 177th meeting earlier this month.

In that meeting, the DBCC set a narrower growth forecast range this year at 6-6.5% from 6-7% previously, while slashing the GDP growth projections for 2021 and 2022 to 6.5-7.5% from 7-8% originally.

At the same time, economic managers maintained a 6.5-7.5% target for 2020.

This year, revenues are expected to reach P3.147 trillion and disbursements at P3.757 trillion.

Despite the scaled-down projection for this year, latest data showed the budget deficit in 10 months to October at just P348.3 billion amid lower-than-programmed state spending in the wake of a delayed enactment of this year’s national budget.

For next year, the fiscal deficit projection was also reduced to P671.2 billion from P677.56 billion previously.

In the medium term, the budget gap for 2021 and 2022 are projected at P737 billion and P811.2 billion, respectively.

These are both lower than the P747.65 billion projected for 2021 and P823.49 billion for 2022 that were set during the July 18 meeting.

Revenues are expected to total some P3.49 trillion next year, P3.84 trillion in 2021 and P4.313 trillion in 2022.

Meanwhile, state disbursement were programmed at P4.16 trillion next year, P4.586 trillion the following year and P5.124 trillion in 2022. — Beatrice M. Laforga