The Bureau of Internal Revenue is tasked to collect P2.6 trillion in revenues this year. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE NATIONAL Government’s revenues grew by 7.7% year on year to P1.9 trillion in the first six months of the year, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said.

“Our stellar performance was the result of higher economic activity and efficiency gains from the digital transformation of our revenue agencies,” he said during the Post-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Philippine Economic Briefing in Pasay City on Tuesday.

Data from the Department of Finance also showed that tax collections in the January-to-June period rose by 7.5%, while nontax revenues grew by 9.1%. The exact collection figures were not available.

Mr. Diokno said that the improved revenue collection was due to the digitalization efforts of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs.

“Sustaining robust revenue collection requires a simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system, reinforced by a combination of tax policy and tax administration measures,” he added.

The government is targeting to raise P3.729 trillion in revenues this year, equivalent to 15.2% of gross domestic product (GDP).

In a separate interview with reporters, BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr. said that the agency is hopeful it will meet its P2.6-trillion collection target this year.

“Improved services will translate to more efficient and increase in revenue collection. We want to make it easier for our taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Diokno said the government may ramp up spending for infrastructure.

“I won’t stop infrastructure spending because slowing it down will have negative consequences. I’m willing to increase the deficit, if necessary, as long as we continue our infrastructure projects,” he added.

The government is planning to spend 5-6% of GDP on infrastructure annually. Infrastructure spending is set at 5.3% of GDP this year, equivalent to P1.29 trillion.

“For the last 50 years before the Duterte administration, we were only spending something like 2% (on infrastructure). That’s why we suffer in comparison with our (Southeast Asian) peers. We cannot sustain this, we’ve got to increase our expenditure for infrastructure,” Mr. Diokno said.

In March, the government approved 194 flagship infrastructure projects worth P8.3 trillion that range from physical and digital connectivity, health, water, agriculture, and energy, among others.

Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it will submit the proposed P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget to the House of Representatives on Aug. 2.

The DBM on Tuesday submitted the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for fiscal year 2024 to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. Once it is approved by the Cabinet, the NEP will be submitted to the House.

The proposed 2024 national budget is 9.5% higher than this year’s P5.268-trillion budget.

“We will present this to Congress. We will defend the President’s budget as much as we can. Our (national) budget is a budget that is responsive to the pressing issues that we have now,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said in a statement.

Under the constitution, the NEP must be presented to Congress within 30 days of the President’s State of the Nation Address.

Next year’s national budget will prioritize infrastructure development, food security, digital transformation, and human capital development. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson