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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  May 2011

Philippines posts record fiscal surplus

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The Philippines posted a record budget surplus last month, the highest in more than two decades, after it failed to meet its expenditure program for the period. Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed Monday the national government posted a P26.26 billion (US$605 million) surplus in April, a record high for the last 25 years or more.

“Netting out interest payments, continued fiscal discipline and increasing revenue collections also resulted in a primary surplus of P102.213 billion as of April, a reversal of last year’s primary deficit of P7.028 billion,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

Government disbursements in April amounted to P112.1 billion, or 8 percent lower than the P121.9 billion spent during the same month a year ago and 14 percent lower than the program of P130.1 billion.

However, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said that spending started to pick up in April, as the utilization of Notice of Cash Allocations improved to 88.9 percent last month from 82 percent as of March.

For the first four months of the year, the sovereign posted an excess of P61 million.

Disbursements over the same period amounted to P461.4 billion, lower by P60.5 billion, or 11.6 percent compared to P521.9 billion year-on-year.

The lower disbursements recorded was on account of lower interest payments by P22.4 billion because of better interest and exchange rates this year; lower capital outlay attributed to lower account payables; and lower maintenance spending as there were non-recurring expenditures last year.

Abad said that he has been pressing departments and agencies, especially those with infrastructure projects, to fulfill their catch-up plans as the government failed to frontload its 2011 General Appropriations Act during the first quarter.

During the first quarter, disbursements stood at P349.3 billion, or below by P82 billion versus the programmed expenditure of P431.3 billion.

“Agencies have a lot of catching up to do. I wish to remind them of President Aquino’s directive to accelerate program and project implementation,” the Budget chief said.

On the revenue side, the government raised a total of P138.33 billion in April or an increase of 11.14 percent from the same period last year of P124.46 billion.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which accounts for about two-thirds of the government’s total income raised P103.393 billion, or 13 percent up from last year’s same period of P91.16 billion, while the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was able to collect P22.440 billion.

The BIR’s total tax take for the period, however, was shy by P1.32 billion as against its target, which Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares attributed to lower than expected tax collections resulting from market transactions of Treasury bills and bonds.

Meanwhile, collections of the BOC were also short by P2.75 billion as both cash and non-cash revenues were below target by P2.35 billion and P400 million, respectively. Customs take declined to P22.44 billion for the period from P22.77 billion in the same month last year. The Bureau of the Treasury income and collections from other offices for the month, on the other hand, were recorded at P6.247 billion and P6.255 billion, respectively.

At end-April, revenue collections reached P461.413 billion. Actual collections for January to April were recorded at P302.942 billion for BIR or a growth of 14.29 percent compared with the same period last year and P85.058 billion for Customs or a marginal growth of 2.04 percent.

The Treasury’s income was recorded at P44.5 billion, while collections from other offices were reached P28.908 billion during the first four months of the year

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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