The government posted a P2.2-billion budget surplus in January this year, a reversal of the P3.5-billion deficit a year ago, as revenue collections rose faster than spending, the Bureau of Treasury said Thursday.
The Treasury said the January surplus marked the first time the national government achieved a positive fiscal balance in the first month of the year since 2010.
“This reflects improved revenue collection effort and prudent spending with year-on-year growth of 10 percent and 7 percent for revenues and expenditures, respectively,” the Treasury said.
Data showed that total revenues increased 10 percent in January to P200.3 billion from P182. 2 billion a year ago. Ninety-two percent of revenues came from tax collections.
Government disbursements rose 7 percent to P198.1 billion in January, despite the 7-percent year-on-year decline in interest payments for the month.
“Only 21 percent of the total expenditures went to the payment of interest, against the previous year’s 25 percent, showing that the growth in disbursements mainly came from releases to productive components of the budget,” it said. Total interest payments stood at P42.4 billion for the month.
The biggest contributor to the revenue expansion was the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which posted a 14-percent increase in collections of P147.4 billion on higher tax payer compliance and other reforms undertaken by the bureau such as expansion of its Large Taxpayers Service.
The Bureau of Customs posted P35.9 billion in revenues, up by 16 percent from a year ago. The agency implemented sweeping reforms to improve collections this year.
Income from the Bureau of the Treasury rose 1 percent to P8 billion.
“The minimal BTr income growth was made possible by the higher interest on advances to GOCCs [government-owned and controlled corporations] as well as higher uptake of the share in Pagcor income. These compensated for the lower interest income earned on national government deposits lodged with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” it said.
Non-tax collections from other offices contracted 36 percent from 2016 and contributed P8 billion. “Strong growth from the two major revenue-generating agencies of the NG ensured that the contraction was counterbalanced leading to total revenue growth of 10 percent year-on-year,” the Treasury said.
Netting out the interest payments from the expenditures, the national government recorded a P44.6-billion primary surplus for January, exceeding the primary surplus for the same period last year by 6 percent or P2.5 billion.
The national government incurred a budget deficit of P353.4 billion in 2016, or 190 percent higher than the P121.7 billion in 2015, as spending outpaced revenue collections.
The 2016 deficit, however, was 9 percent lower than the revised program of P388.9 billion for the year.
It said relative to the economy, the deficit was still within the 2.7-percent revised target, coming in at 2.4 percent of the GDP. This was significantly higher than the 0.9-percent deficit to GDP ratio recorded last year, and the highest level posted in the last five years.