The national government’s budget deficit breached the P1 trillion mark in the first three quarters of the year, but cuts in expenditures allowed the Duterte administration to keep the funding gap below the ceiling.

The Bureau of the Treasury reported Monday, Oct. 25, that the national government’s nine-month fiscal deficit increased by 29.5 percent to P1.14 trillion from P879.2 billion in the same period last year.

But despite the uptick, the actual budget deficit the government incurred was lower than the programmed P1.42 trillion for the period and was equivalent to 61 percent of the revised P1.8 trillion full year ceiling.

Based on the Treasury report, the lower-than-expected deficit was due to the government’s slower spending, settling at only P3.37 trillion, or 5.2 percent below the P3.56 trillion target.

Year-on-year, the end-September expenditures jumped 12 percent from P3.023 trillion.

Meanwhile, revenue collections improved 4.4 percent to P2.237 trillion at end-September from P2.143 trillion in year earlier. This amount was also above the P2.137 trillion target for the period.

Of the total revenues, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) contributed P1.543 trillion, the Bureau of Customs at P469.8 billion, the Treasury bureau at P105.5 billion and other offices at P104.6 billion in the first nine-months of the year.

Both the BIR and the Customs bureau, the government’s two main tax agencies, exceeded their collection targets by 0.72 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

For 2021, the BIR is tasked to collect P2.081 trillion, while the Customs bureau is expected to raise P616.7 billion.

Meanwhile, interest payments declined by 73 percent, with disbursements amounting to P339.3 billion as of September.

Netting out the interest payments, the government recorded a primary deficit of P799.8 billion, significantly lower than the P1.013 trillion in the same period last year.

In September alone, the government registered a P180.9 billion budget gap, higher by 30 percent compared with P138.5 billion in the same month in 2020.

Expenditures during the month rose 17 percent to P412.34 billion from P350.9 billion. Revenues, on the other hand, improved 8.9 percent from P212.4 billion to P231.4 billion.

Source: Manila Bulletin (