By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan, Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT’S fiscal deficit was still below target as of the first half of the year as revenues continue to perform better than expected, even with spending posting 20% growth.
Cash operations data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) on Monday, July 23, show that the budget shortfall stood at P193 billion in the January-June period, 25% wider than the P154.5 billion posted in the same period a year ago, but was 27% below the P264.3 billion programmed deficit in the first six months of the year.
Overall revenues in the first half were at P1.41 trillion, surging 20% from P1.18 trillion last year, and 8% higher than the P1.30-trillion target.
Disbursements grew 20% to P1.60 trillion in the first semester from P1.33 trillion in the same period in 2017, and is 2% higher than the P1.57-trillion spending goal.
In June alone, the fiscal deficit actually narrowed by 40% to P54.3 billion from the P90.9-billion shortfall recorded in the same month in 2017.
Revenues grew surged 25% that month to P224.2 billion from P179.8 billion last year.
Expenditures, however, grew only 3% to P278.5 billion in June, from P270.7 billion in 2017.
This was the slowest pace recorded since the year-on-year decline in September last year, as succeeding months since then all grew by double-digits.
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno explained that this was because the government front-loaded the construction of projects ahead of the rainy season.
“Nag front-load kami (we front-loaded) in the first few months. That should be the case kasi (because) seasonal ang construction. The best months for construction is the first few months of the year kasi (because) second half of the year, umuulan (is the rainy season),” he said in a phone interview on Monday.
Mr. Diokno added that the government commits to meet its spending targets for the whole year.
“So in fact, tamang tama lang ang ginawa natin (we’re on the right track),” he said.