Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Philippines eyeing modest surplus by year-end


MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is eyeing a “modest" surplus during the last quarter of the year, Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves said on Monday.

Manila hopes to be in positive territory with a P182 million surplus in the fourth quarter after it expects a P110.1 billion fiscal gap in the first quarter, P33.7 billion in the second quarter, and P33.5 billion in the third quarter.

“We expect a combination of slightly more favorable external developments aside from the action plans of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BoC)," Teves said. “We will have already provided the bulk of our economic resiliency plan during the first six months."

On Thursday, the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) will review macroeconomic assumptions “to determine whether adjustment will still be needed," Teves said.

The government earlier programmed P102 billion in deficit this year but decided to increase it to P177.2 billion to spend more for critical infrastructure and social services, helping the country achieve a respectable level of economic growth.

This will also prepare for the upturn after the financial storm has passed, Teves said earlier.

For the first two months this year, the Philippines’ budget deficit more than doubled as it spent more and collected less taxes.

The national government’s deficit reached P67 billion during the January to February period, more than twice the P32.9 billion shortfall posted during the same period last year, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Besides allotting more money for the government’s economic resiliency plan, the country’s revenue agencies collected lesser funds as the slowdown cut businesses’ bottomlines, thereby prompting them to remit lower taxes.

However, despite the deficit, Manila still remains “on track to meet its preliminary programmed deficit of P110.1 billion for the first quarter," said a statement that quoted Teves. - GMANews.TV

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