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10-mo fiscal gap balloons to P1.2T



Government incurred a budget shortfall of P1.2 trillion for the year until October as it maintained funding for an expensive response to the impact of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019.

The figure for the period was even higher than the P940.6 billion deficit for the same stretch a year ago.

For October alone, the budget gap was P64.3 billion from P61.4 billion a year ago.

Data from the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) showed the expansion in the national government deficit could be owed to the 10.9 percent rise in revenues along with the 9.6 percent incline in its expenditures.

Bulk or 87 percent of the P253.1 billion revenues during the period came from tax sources while non-tax sources accounted for the remaining 13 percent.

Interest expense on uptrend
Cumulative collections of P2.5 trillion represented 86 percent of the P2.9 trillion revised program for the year and translates to about five percent improvement from the P118.6 billion in the same period year-ago.

Likewise, disbursement for October 2021 grew to P317.4 billion from only P289.6 billion in October 2020, bringing year-to-date spending at P3.69 trillion ­­— higher than the registered P3.31 trillion in 2020.

“Interest payments (IP) for October rose to P31.5 billion, up by 42.89 percent or P9.5 billion over last year mainly due to coupon payments for newly issued Treasury Bonds,” the BTr explained.

“This led to year-to-date IP of P370.9 billion, exceeding the figures recorded for the equivalent period a year ago by 10.70 percent or P35.8 billion,” it added.

Michael Ricafort, chief economist at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. said the government can still raise the level of its spending in the coming months — which will then be utilized for various infrastructure projects as well as other Covid-19-related programs.