MANILA, January 31, 2006
 (MALAYA) HIGHER revenues and cost-cutting measures allowed the government to trim its 2005 budget deficit to P146.5 billion, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves announced recently.

Teves said that with the better-than expected deficit last year and the anticipated 2 percent increase in the expanded value added tax (EVAT) next month, the government further cut its budget deficit target for 2006 to P125 billion.

At the same time, it set the internal target collection of the BOC to P200 billion, higher than the agency’s own target of P191 billion.

"This positive momentum can be sustained this year," said Teves, adding that alongside the increase in VAT, the government’s primary revenue collection agencies, the BIR and the BOC will be intensifying measures to their improve performance for this year.

In 2005, revenues were P12.6 billion in excess of the program of P783.2 billion, up by 14 percent from the previous year’s P699.8 billion. Government expenditures in 2005, on the other hand, amounted to P942.2 billion, P20.9 billion below targeted disbursements but still six percent more than the 2004 disbursements of P886.8 billion.

Under the new EVAT law, the President should raise the sales tax rate if the deficit exceeds 1.5 percent of gross domestic output or if VAT collection exceeds 2.8 percent of economic output.

The proceeds from the 2-percent VAT increase will generate P36 billion for 2006 and this will go a long way in reducing our deficit as well as providing funds for social services and infrastructure projects," Teves said.

Makati to inaugurate 7 major infrastructure projects

THE Makati City government will inaugurate early next month seven major infrastructure projects which are part of the city’s Makati 21 development plan geared to enhance the delivery of services and boost investor confidence.

Mayor Jejomar Binay listed the newly completed projects as the new central police station on Ayala Avenue extension, an aqua sports center in West Rembo, new school buildings and community complexes in Bangkal, Pitogo, Palanan and Guadalupe Nuevo.

Binay said locating the new P190-million Makati police headquarters at the central business district has a deterrent effect on criminality and assures the local and foreign business community of faster response time in case they need police assistance.

The P67-million Makati Aqua Sports Center, on the other hand, features an Olympic-sized swimming pool and warm-up pool built to international standards and qualified as a venue for swimming competitions. The world-class facility will be open to Makati residents and the general public.

"These projects are part of our continuing effort to ensure growth and development for the country’s premier urban center and to provide residents with greater access to quality government facilities and efficient public services," Binay said.

Binay will inaugurate the Bangkal High School on Feb. 1; the Guadalupe Nuevo Community Complex, (including the barangay hall, day care center and covered court), and the Makati Aqua Sports Center on Feb. 3; the Makati central police station on Feb. 4; the Pitogo elementary and Pitogo high schools on Feb. 6, and the Palanan community complex on Feb. 10.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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