PH Nov budget gap narrows on yr, spending peaks

Posted at 12/27/12 11:54 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines said on Thursday it had a budget deficit of P11.56 billion ($281 million) in November, narrower than its deficit a year earlier, even as spending hit its highest for a single month so far this year. 

The monthly data took the January to November shortfall to P127.3 billion, less than half of the full-year target, with revenue growth of nearly 21 percent outpacing the almost 11 percent rise in spending. 

The government has set a full-year budget deficit target of P279 billion, or 2.6 percent of GDP, this year.

Total revenue in November reached P155.3 billion ($3.8 billion), up 20.6 percent from a year earlier, while spending rose 10.7 percent to P166.87 billion. 

The country's main tax agency, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, collected P110.8 billion in November, surpassing its target of P102.9 billion for the month. 

The Philippines expects its economy to grow at around 6.5 percent this year, exceeding its target of 5 percent to 6 percent, after the faster-than-expected annual expansion of 7.1 percent in the third quarter. 

This year's budget deficit may be below the target of 2.6 percent of GDP, and could be 2.3 percent of GDP at best, said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. 

The government wants to limit the budget deficit to 2.0 percent of GDP in 2013 through 2016, when President Benigno Aquino's term ends. 

Last week, credit rating agency Standard & Poor's raised its rating outlook for the Philippines to positive from stable and said the Southeast Asian country could be awarded investment grade status if it follows through on reforms to improve revenues and boost growth. 

The Philippines hopes to win its first investment-grade rating and bring down borrowing costs before Aquino steps down from office.