THE two major revenue-collecting agencies surpassed their reduced targets for the eight months to August with business activity picking up, though they both remain behind the year-earlier pace because of the damage to the economy caused by the pandemic.

According to preliminary data, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) generated a combined P1.637 trillion in the eight months to August, more than their combined collection goal of P1.514 trillion. The total represented a decline of 12% from a year earlier, according to separate data from the National Treasury.

In a text message Wednesday, BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel S.D. Guballa told BusinessWorld the bureau collected P1.289 trillion in those eight months, exceeding its P1.182-trillion target by 9.05%. Year on year, BIR collections were down 11.2%.

The BoC generated P347.636 billion during the period according to a bureau report issued early this week, against a P334.44-billion target. It is 15.5% behind the year-earlier pace.

Finance Undersecretary and the agency’s Chief Economist Gil S. Beltran attributed the improved performance to loosening lockdown restrictions, which allowed business activity to pick up.

“The loosening of the quarantine enabled the economy to scale up production, create jobs and (generate) more tax revenue,” he said in a mobile phone message Wednesday.

Quarantine rules have been eased for much of the country, including Metro Manila, since June.

In August, the BIR generated P172.06 billion, beating its P118.2-billion target by 45.6%. The total was down 16% from August 2019.

The BoC also exceeded its P33.68-billion target by 32.6% after collecting P44.6 billion last month. It remains 16.7% behind the year-earlier pace.

The BIR’s target for the year was lowered by 3% to P1.686 trillion in May. The BoC’s collection target is now at P506.15 billion, down 6.6% from the previous goal.

The capital is now under a general community quarantine until Sept. 30.

Economic managers expect the economy to contract by 4.5-6.6% this year before bouncing back to 6.5-7.5% growth next year. — Beatrice M. Laforga