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2008年12月12日 (金)

社会保障予算 「削減路線」は破綻している

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 12, 2008)

Plan to cut social security costs has already failed

社会保障予算 「削減路線」は破綻している(1212日付・読売社説)

It is apparent that the government's policy for cutting social security expenses has already failed.

 政府がこだわる社会保障費の「削減路線」は、すでに破綻(はたん)している。それが明確になったということだろう。

Discussions among the government and the ruling coalition parties on social security spending have become confused in the procedures for drafting the next fiscal year's budget.

 来年度の予算編成で、社会保障費の議論が迷走中だ。

With the nation's population aging, social security expenses have been increasing naturally at a pace of 800 billion yen every year. The government, which places priority on fiscal reconstruction, has been automatically trimming from this natural increase by 220 billion yen a year.

 高齢化の進行に伴い、社会保障費は、毎年約8000億円のペースで自然に膨らんでいく。財政再建を最優先する政府は、この自然増を毎年2200億円ずつ機械的に削減してきた。

If it plans to maintain this policy in the next fiscal year, the government must either reduce overall expenditures or find new financial sources to increase revenue.

 来年度も方針を維持するには、歳出を削るか、新たな財源を見つけて増収を図らねばならない。

This prompted the government to try to secure a revenue increase of several tens of billions of yen through a hike in the tobacco tax for the sake of social security expenses. However, it shelved this plan at the last moment, giving in to pressure from some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who are concerned about the negative effects of such a tax hike in a general election.

 政府はこのため、たばこ税を引き上げ、1000億円規模の財源を確保して社会保障費にあてようとした。だが、選挙への影響などを懸念する自民党内の圧力に押され、土壇場で見送った。

The government also considered a plan to abolish a state contribution of 160 billion yen to the national employment insurance scheme, but it was found to be difficult under current deteriorating employment conditions. Since the government reportedly has run out of any other good ideas, it is becoming extremely difficult to achieve the reduction goal in the fiscal 2009 budget.

 また、雇用保険に拠出してきた1600億円規模の国庫負担を廃止する案も浮上したが、雇用情勢が悪化する中では困難だ。他に有力な手立てはなく、来年度予算でノルマを達成することは極めて難しくなった。

===

Govt dithered too long

First of all, the government has effectively failed to achieve even this fiscal year's goals.

 そもそも、この削減方針は今年度分についても事実上、実行できていない。

It has already given up on the passage of a bill to make corporate health insurance unions shoulder 100 billion yen, which has been paid every year to the government-administered health insurance program from the national treasury. The government already made a large amount of additional spending in the first supplementary budget as premiums for the health care system for people aged 75 and over were lowered.

 政府管掌健康保険への国庫負担1000億円を企業の健保に肩代わりさせる法案の成立は、すでに断念した。後期高齢者医療制度の保険料引き下げなどに伴い、第1次補正予算でも、大幅な追加支出をしている。

If the government continues to insist on its approach of cutting social security spending, problems in medical and welfare fields will only grow. It is time for the government to show clearly that it is set to change course.

 社会保障費の削減路線に固執し続けるならば、医療や福祉の歪(ゆが)みはさらに広がる。明確に路線変更すべき時だ。

The government could at the same time maintain fiscal discipline by thoroughly streamlining spending in fields other than social security.

 同時に非社会保障部門の無駄を徹底的に排除することで、財政規律は保てるのではないか。

Yet the government also has been indecisive on whether to raise the ratio of basic pensions funded through tax revenues to 50 percent. This raise was decided on four years ago by a law to be carried out by fiscal 2009--after a stable financial source was to be secured. However, the government even studied the possibility of raising this ratio not at the beginning of the next fiscal year, but six months after that.

 基礎年金の国庫負担割合を2分の1まで引き上げることについても政府の腰は定まっていない。

 法律で「安定財源を確保した上で2009年度までに実施する」と4年前から決まっていたにもかかわらず、年度当初からではなく半年先送りを一時検討した。

The government was forced to consider this simply because it had failed to secure that stable financial source.

 理由は「安定財源の確保」を怠ってきたことに尽きる。

===

Time for consumption tax hike

The government has no choice but to increase the consumption tax rate to secure the stable flow of 2.5 trillion yen needed to raise the portion of basic pension funded from the national treasury. Members of the government and the ruling parties now see that they are in trouble because they have been aware of the necessity of the consumption tax rate hike but managed to avoid discussing it.

必要な約2・5兆円を安定的に確保するには、消費税率を引き上げるしかない。分かっていながら、議論すら避けてきたツケだ。

The government and the ruling parties are planning to balance next fiscal year's budget by using some of the funds reserved at special accounts. However, this should only be an emergency measure, certainly not a stable financial source.

 政府・与党は、来年度については特別会計の積立金、いわゆる埋蔵金を取り崩して帳尻を合わせる方針だ。だが、これは窮余の策であり、安定財源とは言えない。

What will the government and the ruling parties do to make ends meet after using the reserved funds? They must answer this question and make clear a road map to a consumption tax rate hike.

 その先をどうするのか。政府・与党は、消費税率引き上げの道筋を併せて示さねばならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 12, 2008)

200812120142  読売新聞)

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