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- Government to defend constitutionality of Bangsamoro bill The Aquino administration is prepared to defend the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro draft bill and is confident that the proposed measure could withstand judicial scrutiny. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels have in fact been cautious about the possibility of the bill being challenged before the Supreme Court (SC). “Both panels already have that in mind. Knowing that anything that will come out of their negotiations would be challenged, they have made sure that they have the proper legal guidance while it was being crafted and that it will stand up to scrutiny,” Ms. Valte said. This early, some groups – particularly those opposed to the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity in Mindanao – have made known their plans to file a petition at the SC even if the bill has not yet been submitted to Congress.
- February deficit narrower at P9.7Bn The budget deficit narrowed in February as revenues expanded faster than expenditures, the government yesterday reported. The shortfall settled at P9.718 billion, 17% smaller compared to the P11.749 billion recorded in the same month last year, data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed. Revenues increased by 7% year-on-year to P120.286 billion on the back of improved collections from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC). Both agencies, however, again missed their targets for the month. The BIR’s February haul grew by 5.18% annually to P78.38 billion, short of its P87.32-billion goal. BoC collections, meanwhile, surged by 22.01% to P27.416 billion but were still below the P30.184-billion target. The BTr contributed P5.6 billion and other offices, P8.9 billion.
- Forex reserves down to $79.8Bn The country’s gross international reserves went down to $79.803 billion in March from $80.540 billion in February due to debt payments made by the government, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (central bank) reported yesterday. “The decline in reserves was due mainly to outflows arising from payments by the national government of its maturing foreign exchange obligations, foreign exchange operations of the BSP, and revaluation adjustments on the BSP’s gold holdings and foreign currency denominated reserves,” the central bank said. The March GIR level is enough to cover 11.1 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to 7.1 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 5.2 times based on residual maturity.