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The Philippines reported a budget deficit in May, reversing a surplus the previous month, as the government stepped up spending on roads and schools.
The shortfall was 19.9 billion pesos ($469 million), the government said in an e-mailed statement in Manila today, compared with a surplus of 31 billion pesos for April. Revenue rose 9.4 percent from a year earlier, while spending climbed 16.7 percent.
President Benigno Aquino plans to increase state spending to a record this year as he seeks to shield the economy from Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and a growth slowdown in China. His effort has been bolstered by recent credit-rating upgrades, with Moody’s Investors Service lifting its outlook to positive in May, citing improving debt levels.
“The outlook for the external environment looks cloudy in the second half,” Eugene Leow, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said before the report. Still, the Philippines “has a very strong fiscal position,” giving the government leeway to ramp up more stimulus if needed, he said.
The peso rose 0.3 percent to 42.52 per dollar, while the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index gained 0.5 percent.
“The wide fiscal space will now give us an advantage to finance infrastructure projects and social programs that shall, in the long term, curb poverty and promote equality,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement today.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad said today he will present a 2.006 trillion-peso budget proposal for 2013 to Aquino on June 29. The budget deficit next year will likely be 241 billion pesos, or 2 percent of gross domestic product, Abad said, compared with a target of 279.1 billion pesos, or 2.6 percent of GDP this year.
The Philippines’ $200 billion economy expanded 6.4 percent last quarter, the fastest after China and Sri Lanka in a basket of 17 Asia-Pacific economies tracked by Bloomberg. Aquino aims at growth of as much as 8 percent annually to boost incomes and reduce poverty.
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