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2008年7月29日 (火)

来年度予算

(Jul. 29, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fiscal '09 budget rules fail to address pensions

来年度予算 「基礎年金」の答えはいつ出す(7月29日付・読売社説)

Although the government has decided on the details of budgetary request guidelines for fiscal 2009, it is inevitable that compiling the budget for the next fiscal year will be an unusually difficult task. Toward the end of the year, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's leadership will be called into question anew.

来年度予算の編成作業は、例年になく難しいものになることは避けられまい。年末に向け、福田首相の指導力が改めて問われることになろう。

anew=改めて、新たに

The ceilings for budgetary requests, a set of criteria for determining the draft budget for the next fiscal year, is scheduled to be approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

来年度予算の大枠を決める概算要求基準(シーリング)が固まった。29日に閣議了解する。

The key element of the fiscal 2009 budgetary requests is the creation of the "important issues promotion category" that amounts to 330 billion yen.

今回の目玉は、総額3300億円の「重要課題推進枠」を新設することだ。

As an exception in the guidelines that set limits for budgetary requests by government ministries, a certain amount of budget increase will be approved for items related to certain issues under the system.

要求額に上限を設けるシーリングの例外として、テーマ別に一定程度の増額を認めるのがこの重要課題推進枠だ。

Those issues will include easing the worsening doctor shortage, addressing the declining birthrate and aging society, measures to tackle the global warming issues that were the major focus at the Group of Eight summit of major nations in Toyakocho, Hokkaido; and ways to reinforce dynamic growth.

深刻化する医師不足や少子高齢化への対策、洞爺湖サミットで焦点となった地球温暖化問題への対応、成長力の強化策などが対象となる。

===

Further cuts required

(さらなる切り詰めが必要)

However, the current severe fiscal situation requires further cuts in other areas if increases are to be approved for items addressing these issues.

ただ、厳しい財政事情もあり、これらのテーマに重点的に配分するには、それ以外の予算をさらに削る必要がある。

For that reason, the government has decided to add 2 percentage points to the previously decided cuts in such areas as public works spending, which was set to be chopped by 3 percent from a year before, and defense related expenditure and spending on national university operations, both of which were set for a 1 percent reduction. In the case of public works spending, this means the budget will be cut by 5 percent from the initial 2008 budget.

そのため、これまで前年度比で3%減だった公共事業費、1%減だった防衛関係費や国立大学運営費などの削減率に、さらに2%分上乗せすることにした。公共事業費なら計5%の削減となる。

In addition, the plan to reduce the natural increase in social security costs by 220 billion yen will be maintained as in the past.

加えて、社会保障費の自然増分を2200億円抑制する措置も、従来通りに維持する。

Although it is a desperate action to make the budget compilation work properly while still giving the government some leeway to act on important issues, we doubt whether the 330 billion yen is enough to address such vital concerns. There are even some who say the fund should be expanded drastically.

メリハリの利いた編成をするための苦肉の策というわけだが、はたして重要課題推進枠が3300億円で十分か。もっと思い切って拡大すべきだという声もある。

===

Other issues ignored

(その他の問題は無視)

The problem lies in handling pending issues that were shelved in the guidelines. Among them, the most difficult one is how to handle the increase in the government's burden resulting from raising the share of the basic pension payment it shoulders from the current level of little more than one-third to 50 percent. Under normal circumstances, the funds necessary for the plan, 2.3 trillion yen, would have to be incorporated in the social security budget before deciding on the cap for the item.

問題は、今回のシーリングで先送りされた懸案の取り扱いである。中でも難問は基礎年金の国庫負担の引き上げ問題だ。

国の負担率は3分の1強だが、2009年度から2分の1とすることが決まっている。本来ならそれに必要な2兆3000億円を社会保障予算の枠内に入れてシーリングを決める必要があった。

However, it now seems quite likely that the government will not raise the the consumption tax rate, a measure widely expected to provide the revenue source for this item, due to worries about the economic outlook and the likelihood of a House of Representatives election.

しかし、財源として期待されていた消費税は、景気の先行き不安や衆院選を控えていることなどから、来年度からの引き上げは見送られる見通しだ。

Some measures have emerged as alternatives to a consumption tax hike. They include using the surplus in the government's special accounts, often called the "warlord's buried treasure," or delaying the increase in the government's burden for about six months from the scheduled start at the beginning of fiscal 2009 in April.

埋蔵金といわれる国の特別会計などの剰余金を活用したり、負担率の引き上げ時期を09年度当初から半年ほど遅らせたり、といった対応策が浮上している。

In any case, Fukuda has to come up with an answer to the question by the end of the year.

いずれにせよ、首相は年末までにこの問題に答えを出さねばならない。

Also, no concrete policy was indicated in the guidelines for directing road-related special revenues into the government's general revenue stream.

道路特定財源を一般財源化するための具体的方針も示されなかった。

Cutting all public works projects, including road-related budget items, by only 5 percent is wholly insufficient.

シーリングで道路予算を含む公共事業を5%削減するだけではまったく不十分だ。

If he cannot take a machete to road-related budget items, Fukuda will be criticized for breaking his promises.

道路予算に大胆に切り込めなければ、首相は約束違反の指弾を受けることになろう。

machete=おおなた発音注意:マシェティーと発音される

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2008)

20087290224  読売新聞)

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