MANILA - The Philippines posted a narrower budget deficit in the first quarter as revenue collections grew while spending slowed amid delays in the passage of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.
The Bureau of the Treasury said the national government booked a P58.4-billion deficit in March, which was 47 percent lower compared to the same month last year.
This brought the budget shortfall in the January-March period to P90.2 billion, down by 41 percent from the same period in 2018.
Revenue collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue grew 11 percent year-on-year to P468.2 billion in the first quarter.
The Bureau of Customs also collected P141.9 billion during the period, which was 9 percent higher than in 2018.
Meanwhile, expenditures reached P778 billion in the first quarter, up by just 1 percent from a year ago, driven mainly by the 33-percent increase in interest payments.
The government has been banking on sustained spending, particularly on infrastructure projects, to boost the economy.
Last month, the government lowered its economic growth target for this year to 6-7 percent, instead of 7-8 percent, citing the impact of the delay in the approval of the budget.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the P3.7-trillion national budget on April 15, vetoing several provisions totaling P95.3 billion.