As budget gap narrows, fiscal goals seen viable


WITH a narrower budget deficit, the Department of Finance (DOF) expressed confidence that the government can meet the targets set under the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF).

In a statement on Tuesday, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the narrowing of the National Government (NG) deficit in the January to September period bodes well for the country’s fiscal position.

Diokno noted that on a year-to-date basis, the deficit figure is only 66 percent of the P1.5 trillion full-year program.

“The lower deficit outturn indicates that NG debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to stabilize and allow the country to remain on track to achieving the MTFF target of 61.2 percent for 2023 and less than 60 percent by 2025,” Diokno said.

Diokno noted that administrative measures by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) will be further intensified to enhance their revenue collections for the remaining months of the year.

These programs include a tax compliance verification drive; Run After Tax Evaders (RATE); Oplan Kandado; Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) task force; strike team; and digital transformation programs of the BIR.

The BIR has also stepped up its drive to detect and penalize buyers, sellers, and certified public accountants (CPAs) using fraudulent invoices and receipts through the Run After Fake Transactions (RAFT) campaign.

BOC, for its part, will continue the full implementation of the fuel marking program; intensify post-audit clearance of importers; enhance trade facilitation; and strengthen border control.

To enhance expenditure performance, the government has identified the main challenges to spending which include preparatory activities for procurement, take-up of beneficiaries, seasonality in project implementation, implementation problems, and payment issues.

To address documentation issues, close coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), more aggressive processing of pending documentation requirements, and early facilitation of budget requests will be carried out.

In terms of take-up and implementation, integrated efforts from concerned units and a recalibration of validation processes for beneficiaries are being implemented.

Payment issues are also being addressed through the streamlining and standardization of payment requirements.

“The ongoing efforts of the government have been effective in bolstering its spending so far and the government is poised to sustain the robust expenditure performance in the coming months,” Diokno said.

Earlier, the state’s budget deficit in January to September narrowed by nearly 3 percent to P983.5 billion, but it missed its programmed deficit as national government spending slowed during the period.

Manila’s budget deficit from January to September was 11.11 percent, or about P123 billion short of its programmed amount of P1.106 trillion as expenditures fell below target.

The national government’s revenues during the nine-month period rose by 6.79 percent year-on-year to P2.837 trillion from P2.657 trillion, according to the Treasury. The year-to-date earnings was nearly 3 percent higher than the P2.755 trillion programmed by the national government.

Meanwhile, the state’s expenditures fell behind its nine-month target by P40.9 billion despite growing 4.12 percent year-on-year.

The national government’s total expenditures from January to September went up by P151.1 billion to P3.821 trillion from P3.67 trillion a year ago. 

Image credits: Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB