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2008年12月13日 (土)

与党税制大綱 減税だけで不安は消えぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 13, 2008)

Tax cuts alone won't dispel anxiety

与党税制大綱 減税だけで不安は消えぬ(1213日付・読売社説)

Although the ruling parties' outline of fiscal 2009 tax system reform includes a series of tax cuts, it will not help dispel public anxiety about the future. This is because no prospect has emerged for the government to find a stable financial source to fund snowballing social security costs.

 ずらりと減税策が並んでいるのに、将来への不安は消えない。増え続ける社会保障を支える安定財源が、一向に見えてこないからだ。

The tax system reform outline finalized by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on Friday features an abundance of tax cuts, including the biggest-ever housing loan tax breaks, reduced automobile taxes for eco-friendly vehicles and a lower corporate tax rate for small and medium-sized companies.

 自民、公明両党がまとめた来年度の与党税制改正大綱は、過去最大の住宅ローン減税をはじめ、低公害車の自動車税の軽減、中小企業の法人税率引き下げなど減税策が目白押しだ。

Under the outline, if a taxpayer buys a newly built house that is officially designated as being earthquake-resistant and durable enough to qualify as "200-year housing" for long-term use, he or she is entitled to reductions in income and residential taxes worth up to 6 million yen over 10 years. The automobile weight tax and automobile acquisition tax will be waived for hybrid cars. These tax incentives are expected to invigorate the market.

 耐震工事などを施した「長期優良住宅」を新築した場合、10年で最大600万円も所得・住民税が安くなる。ハイブリッド車の自動車重量税と取得税はゼロになる。市場活性化には効果があろう。

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Set date for sales tax hike

The cooling of the domestic economy is speeding up as consumption slumps and anxiety over employment spreads. It is understandable for the government to put priority on economic pump-priming measures and try to stimulate demand for housing and automobiles, which has large spillover effects on domestic demand.

 消費減退や雇用不安が広がり、国内景気は冷え込む一方だ。景気てこ入れを最優先し、内需波及効果が大きい住宅や自動車などの需要を刺激する狙いは分かる。

We must say, however, that in failing to propose specifics on hiking the consumption tax--the other focal point in compiling the tax system reform outline--the ruling parties were overcautious.

 だが、もう一つの焦点だった消費税率の引き上げは、あまりに及び腰と言わざるを得ない。

The outline calls for transforming the consumption tax into a social security purpose tax by clearly stating that "all revenues from the consumption tax will be used to pay social security benefits--pension, medical and nursing care--and [to finance] policy measures to deal with the declining fertility rate."

 大綱は、「消費税の全額を年金・医療・介護の社会保障給付と少子化対策に充てる」と明記し、消費税を社会保障目的税化する方針を打ち出した。

However, the outline falls short of clarifying the essential point--the timing of the tax raise--and merely states that "the government will establish a sustainable fiscal structure by the mid-2010s." It skirts the issue of by how much the consumption tax rate should be raised.

 ところが、肝心の消費税率の引き上げ時期は、「2010年代半ばまでに持続可能な財政構造を確立する」と、あいまいなままだ。引き上げ幅については、どこにも触れられていない。

The government should not wait for the nation's economy to recover before preparing to raise the consumption tax. That would be too late. Unless meticulous preparations are made in advance, it will be difficult to raise the consumption tax swiftly.

 景気が回復してから準備を始めたのでは遅すぎる。事前に周到な準備をしなければ、とても速やかな引き上げはできまい。

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Prime minister lacks clout

Prime Minister Taro Aso had instructed the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System to clearly state that the consumption tax will be raised in three years' time, and the commission was preparing to do so. But the outline ended up stating no time frame for raising the tax in the face of strong opposition from New Komeito, which was alarmed by the possible ramifications that such a stipulation would have on the outcome of the next House of Representatives election, and other factors.

 麻生首相は、3年後の消費税率引き上げを明示するよう指示し、自民党税調もその方向だった。しかし、選挙への影響を懸念した公明党の反発などから、時期を明らかにすることはできなかった。

The ruling parties decided against hiking the tobacco tax, which the prime minister had requested as a means to supplement a shortfall in revenues to cover social security costs for next fiscal year. They failed to secure a stopgap financial source necessary for next fiscal year, let alone find a stable financial source for the future. It is almost unbearable to see the prime minister's leadership waning so much.

 来年度の社会保障費の不足分を補うため、首相が求めていた「たばこ税の引き上げ」も見送られた。将来の安定財源どころか、来年度に必要なつなぎ財源すら手当てできていない。指導力の低下は目を覆わんばかりだ。

Under such circumstances, it is doubtful that the government will be able to fix the economy in three years, as Aso asserted. Unless the people stop worrying about their livelihood in the future, they will not loosen their purse strings, no matter how loudly the government trumpets tax cuts.

 こんな状況では、本当に景気を「全治3年」で回復できるのかどうかも、心もとない。将来の生活不安が消えないうちは、いくら減税を叫んでも、国民の財布のヒモは緩まないだろう。

The government and ruling parties plan to shortly compile a "midterm program" that will serve as a road map for sweeping tax reforms to be taken in the medium term, based on the ruling parties' tax system reform outline.

 税制改正大綱を踏まえて、政府・与党は、中期的な税制抜本改革の道筋を示す「中期プログラム」を近くまとめる方針だ。

Aso still has a chance to turn things around. The prime minister should have the government and ruling parties go a step further and clearly state a road map for raising the consumption tax.

 首相にとって、まだ巻き返すチャンスはある。より踏み込んで、消費税率引き上げの工程を明確に示すべきである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 13, 2008)

200812130138  読売新聞)

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