by Bernardo Caram
BRASILIA (Reuters) – The central government posted a primary deficit of 6.304 billion reais in March, the Treasury said on Thursday, better than market expectations.
A Reuters poll with analysts projected a fiscal gap of 13.6 billion reais. Even so, the number was below that recorded in the same month of 2021, when there was a surplus of 2.0 billion reais.
The numbers gather the National Treasury, Central Bank and Social Security accounts.
With higher-than-expected collection data, the Treasury already sees a better result for public accounts this year. The most recent official estimate, released in March, pointed to a primary deficit of 66.9 billion reais at the end of 2022.
“The results obtained in the first quarter of the year suggest that the central government’s primary balance may be higher than that projected in the evaluation report of primary revenues and expenditures for the 1st quarter,” the agency said in a note, without presenting a new estimate.
According to the Treasury, revenues are rising at a faster rate than projected. On the other hand, the expectation is that expenses will be close to the values already estimated due to the limitation of the spending ceiling.
In 12 months, the federal accounts accumulate a primary deficit of 15.5 billion reais by the inflation-corrected series, equivalent to 0.17% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The fiscal 2022 target is a deficit of 170.5 billion reais, but this year’s budget was approved with a forecast of a smaller gap, of 76.2 billion reais.
Even with the most favorable scenario, the Secretary of the Treasury, Paulo Valle, recommended caution in the management of government accounts, noting that it is difficult to meet the spending ceiling and grant salary readjustments to civil servants and meet other demands from short-lived ministries. .
The March result was composed of a surplus of 13.9 billion reais in the National Treasury, in addition to shortfalls of 20.2 billion reais in the Social Security accounts and 54 million reais in the Central Bank.
In the month, the government’s net revenue had a real high of 6.7%, compared to March 2021, to 140.4 billion reais.
The number reflects a real increase in collection, of 6.9%, released this Thursday by the Federal Revenue, under the impact of gains from oil royalties and adjustments made by companies for the 2021 fiscal year.
Total expenditure in the month, in turn, grew 13.5% above inflation, to 146.7 billion reais.
There was an increase of 262.1% in spending on salary bonuses and unemployment insurance, compared to March 2021, reaching 16.0 billion reais. The jump was motivated by a change in the allowance payment schedule, which was brought forward to the first quarter.
Grants and grants increased by 141.2% to 148 million. There was also growth in spending on Fundeb (fund for education), a jump of 48.6%, reaching 1.8 billion reais.
There was also an increase in spending on social programs. Expenditure on Auxílio Brasil stood at 7.4 billion reais in the month, against 3.0 billion reais for Bolsa Família in March 2021.
On the other hand, government spending on personnel and social charges dropped 8.1% to 25.2 billion reais.
In the first three months of the year, there is a surplus in public accounts of 49.627 billion reais, against a positive balance of 24.205 billion reais in the same period of 2021.