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MANILA - (UPDATED 4:56 p.m.) The Aquino administration enjoyed a P31.02 billion budget surplus last April, the highest on record for the month when income tax returns fall due, the Department of Finance said on Monday.
Last month's surplus narrowed the January to April fiscal deficit to P2.89 billion.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima attributed the April surplus to the government's efforts to improve revenue collections.
“This proves that there remains to be space for tax collections to grow considerably through process re-engineering and efficient tax administration marked by a sustained campaign against smuggling and tax evasion,” Purisima said.
“Moving forward, the Aquino administration will continue to plug loopholes in the Philippine tax system, one of which has seen progress after 15 years of continued delay. The excise tax reform has been approved at the committee level of the Lower House and the finance department remains optimistic it shall be passed into law this year given President Aquino’s support to the measure which he identified as urgent,” he added.
During the first four months of the year, the government raised P514.242 billion, up 11.4 percent from P461.413 billion in 2011. For last month alone, collections increased 10.8 percent to P153.268 billion.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which accounts for more than two-thirds of the government's income, collected P345.065 billion at end-April, an improvement of 14 percent from P302.942 billion in 2011. In April alone, BIR raised only P116.22 billion, or P6.594 billion shy of its P122.814 billion goal for the period.
The Bureau of Customs, meanwhile, raised P94.896 billion during the first four months, 11.6 percent up year-on-year. It was however P14.46 billion short of its P109.36 billion target for the period. Last month, Customs raised P25.367 billion, 13 percent higher year-on-year, but P2.63 billion off its P28 billion goal for the period.
Government expenditures increased by 12 percent to P517.13 billion during the four-month period from the P461.352 billion spent during the same period last year. For April alone, disbursements reached P122.24 billion, 9.1 percent higher than the P112.07 billion spent a year ago.
“We are pleased to report that government disbursements continue to grow and to reverse the contraction of disbursements last year. More importantly, with the reforms that have taken place since last year, we are confident that the quality of spending under the Aquino administration continues to improve,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a separate statement.
“Nonetheless, we acknowledge that government spending, especially on priority programs and projects of the administration, needs to grow at a much faster pace in order to support our development targets,” he said.
Excluding interest payments, the government recorded a primary surplus for the first four months amounting to P111.742 billion.
The government has programmed a budget deficit of P279 billion for the whole year, which is two percent of forecast gross domestic product (GDP) for 2012.
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