By Ralf Rivas, February 22 2019;

Image Credit to AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The government spent more than what it had intended to in 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Treasury(BTr) released on Friday, February 22.

The fiscal deficit reached P558.3 billion in 2018, which is 3.2% of the country’s gross dnomestic product (GDP).

Economic managers only aimed for 3%, which means spending exceeded by P34.6 billion.

The BTr said the current values reflect that the government rose above “serial underspending” from the previous years.

In 2017, the GDP deficit performance was only 2.2% or P350.6 billion, which means the 2018 figure is 59% higher.

The figures increased in 2018 amid a 21% increase in disbursements matched with a revenue growth of 15%.

Meanwhile, revenue collection in 2018 reached P2.85 trillion, exceeding the target by P3.9 billion.

While the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) missed its collection goal of P2 trillion last year, non-tax revenues were able to offset the shortfall.

The government’s deficit target for 2019 is 3.2% of the GDP. This will go back to 3% from 2020 to 2022.

Infrastructure spending

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Friday that the average budget deficit during the Duterte administration has averaged 2.7% of the GDP on the back of aggressive infrastructure spending.

Infrastructure spending as percent of the GDP is now twice the fiscal deficit-to-GDP ratio. This is impressive, according to Diokno.

“The fiscal numbers reflect our seriousness in closing the country’s infrastructure gap,” Diokno said.

“We are spending above 6% of GDP on public infrastructure, while keeping the deficit-to-GDP ratio at less than 3%. No administration has done this before,” the budget chief added.

Note that Diokno cited the administration’s two-year fiscal deficit average and not the 2018 figure of 3.2%. –