Finance chief says higher spending in 2016 needed to ensure inclusive growth

MANILA-- Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Friday the higher gap in the government's budget last year is not bad at all since it allowed the Duterte administration to immediately face and address problems on infrastructure, human capital and social protection.

The Bureau of Treasury (BTr) on Thursday reported the 190 percent year-on-year jump in budget deficit to PHP353.4 billion from 2015's PHP121.7 billion. Last year's deficit is however less than the PHP388.9 billion programmed for 2016.

This, after spending rose by 14 percent to PHP2.549 trillion last year from the previous year's PHP2.23 trillion.

Revenues grew 4 percent to PHP2.195 trillion from 2015's PHP2.109 trillion.

In a statement, Dominguez said the budget gap last year is well within the government target of 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

He said higher spending on infrastructure, human capital and social protection is aimed at ensuring the domestic economy's high growth, encourage more investments and create jobs, fast-track poverty reduction, and allow the country to be a middle income economy by 2022.

"This major policy shift, in turn, has allowed the NG (national government) to keep the domestic economy on the uptrend despite global market volatility," he said.

With the increase in budget deficit, the finance chief stressed the need to approve the proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) to have the funds for higher requirements of the economy and make growth "a truly inclusive one".

The first package of the CTRP calls for a cut in personal income tax rates, which in turn will be countered by an increase in excise tax for vehicles and oil products and the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT).

Source: Philippines News Agency

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