(STAR) By Iris C. Gonzalez - The government’s two main revenue generating agencies met their collection targets for August, the second month in a row that goals were reached this year, a sign that government revenues are back on track after a weak first half.

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales told reporters yesterday the agency, the country’s second biggest tax collector, hit its target of P20.2 billion in August. “We hit the target,” Morales said.

He said the enhanced efforts by the agency to curb smuggling and boost collections have paid off despite the continued strengthening of the peso against the dollar which lessens the value of import tariff payments received by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“Every one peso appreciation results in P2.2 billion in revenue losses for us. Despite this, we estimate that our August collection will be 13 percent over than the same period last year,” Morales said.

In July, the BOC’s collections rose to P20.8 billion, above its P19-billion target and also higher than the P16.4 billion it collected in the same period last year.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which accounts for two-thirds of the government’s tax take, likely met its collection goal of P82 billion for August based on initial data, said an official of the agency who requested anonymity.

“We will achieve the goal according to preliminary figures,” said the BIR official.

BIR collections for July rose to P58.7 billion or 20.1 percent higher than the P48.9 billion recorded in the same period last year.

The preliminary figures from the two tax agencies indicate that government’s revenues are likely back on track in August, similar to July after a disappointing fiscal performance in the first half of the year.

In January to June, the government’s budget deficit swelled to P41 billion or above the P31.3 billion goal.

The government posted a surprise small budget surplus in July, against a targeted shortfall of almost P21 billion, helped by P17 billion in additional revenues from the sale of a 20 percent stake in geothermal firm PNOC-EDC.

The government, is hoping to sell another 40 percent stake, valued at about P38 billion, in PNOC-EDC later this year but analysts have said investors’ weaker appetite for risk following last month’s market turbulence could hit the sale.

The government expects to post a budget surplus of P15.355 billion in August, according to the budget program.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves declined to comment on the budget deficit for the month of August but he stressed that the government hopes to contain the yearend deficit at P63 billion.

China donates P90 M to AFP Tuesday, September 4, 2007

(STAR) China has donated 15 million renminbi (about P90 million) to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for various purposes, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said yesterday.

Teodoro announced this following a call of Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan at the Department of National Defense (DND) at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.

“The Chinese government has given today a RMB15-million grant of items, which shall be discussed at a later time,” he said in an interview.

Teodoro said they have yet to discuss where the military would spend the money.

The Chinese government did not give any conditions for the grant, he added.

Teodoro said he met with Cao in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippines and China signed by former defense secretary Avelino Cruz.

“We agreed to continue to dialogue, (to have) a mutual exchange of views regarding regional concerns,” he said.

Teodoro said forging closer ties with regional neighbors would be good for the AFP.

“We treat all nations equally, under our Constitution,” he said. “We have to treat and respect all nations as good neighbors in the spirit of amity and cooperation with all of them.”

They would discuss the exchange of military students for confidence building during Cao’s five-day visit, Teodoro said.

Cao was given full military honors upon his arrival at the DND grounds yesterday.

He is expected to meet with President Arroyo and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, a former defense minister. – James Mananghaya

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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