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2009年1月20日 (火)

着実に社会保障税の準備を、超党派で取り組む時だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 18, 2009)

Govt should pave way for social security tax

着実に社会保障税の準備を、超党派で取り組む時だ(118日付・読売社説)

The economic crisis that has engulfed the world is instilling anxiety into people's lives.

 世界を覆う経済危機が国民の生活に不安を広げている。

The government obviously has to focus on economic reconstruction and recovery. But at the same time, it is vital to make the social security system unshakable.

 経済の立て直しと景気回復に、力を注ぐべきであることは言うまでもない。だが、同時に社会保障制度を揺るぎないものにする取り組みも重要だ。

If people do not feel secure about the future, consumption will not expand, and the economy will not regain its strength. As we are in the middle of a severe economic downturn, this will be a crucial year for tackling social security system reform.

 将来の安心がなければ、消費は拡大せず、景気も力強さを取り戻せない。厳しい経済情勢にあるからこそ、なおさら社会保障改革が大事な年となるだろう。

2009 is the first year when the generation born in the Heisei era reaches adulthood. The baby boomers born between 1947 and 1949--right after the end of World War II--will all be 60 or older this year, too.

 今年は、平成に生まれた世代が初めて成人になった。そして、戦後間もなく生まれた団塊の世代(1947~49年生まれ)も全員が還暦を越える。

A look at the circumstances surrounding the two generations reveals the problems facing the social security system.

 二つの世代が今、どういう状況にあるのか。それを見れば、現行の社会保障制度が直面している問題は明白だ。

Upon reaching the age of 20, a person must join the national pension scheme, helping to support the pension system. The core of those who support not only the pension scheme, but also medical, nursing care and other services in the social security system will gradually shift to the generation born in the Heisei era in the coming years.

 20歳になると全員が国民年金に加入して、制度の支え手となる。年金だけでなく、医療・介護など社会保障制度の担い手の中核は、年を経るごとに平成世代へ移っていく。

In the not-so-distant future, the baby boomers will become retirees dependent on the social security system.

 団塊世代はまさに大きな塊となって、遠からず現役を離れ、社会保障を頼りとする高齢期を迎えようとしている。

The apex of the nation's demographic pyramid is rapidly expanding, while the Heisei-era generation, which forms the narrow base of the pyramid, looks as if it is being crushed by the weight of the older generation.

 人口ピラミッドの上部は急速に膨らむ。一方で、土台に位置する平成世代は押しつぶされそうなほど少ない。

The nation faces a chronic, rapid aging of the population combined with an extremely low birthrate. In this situation, those who support the social security system will not be able to endure the burden imposed on them if the government tries to maintain social security benefits under the current system, which largely relies on the generations still working.

超少子高齢化は年々進行する。現役世代の負担に大きく頼る現行制度のまま、社会保障給付を維持しようとすれば、支える側は耐えきれないだろう。

The burden of providing financial resources for welfare should be spread widely among both young and old, with each paying a small portion. By doing this, the burden will be spread evenly across every generation, even though the population of the older generation is larger than those of the working generations.

 老いも若きも、広く薄く、福祉財源を負担し合う必要がある。そうすれば、高齢者層が大きく、現役層が小さくとも、負担の重さは分散される。

Financial resources should be properly secured by renaming the current consumption tax the "social security tax," to be solely used for social security purposes, and raising its rate.

 現行の消費税を福祉目的のみに使う「社会保障税」とし、税率を引き上げることによって、きっちりと財源を確保するべきだ。

===

Delay in raising tax costly

◆埋蔵金はすぐ尽きる◆

The nation will have to pay for the delay in increasing the consumption tax rate. The effects of this neglect can be seen in every field of the social security system, including anxiety over pension funding, the shortage of doctors and nurses, the low wages of nursing care workers, the poor implementation of medical care rules for the elderly, and the financial quagmire that health insurance associations are in.

 年金財源の不安、医師や看護師の不足、介護職員の低賃金、高齢者医療の混乱、健保組合財政の苦境――。消費税の引き上げを先送りしてきたツケが、社会保障のあらゆる分野で噴出している。

As society grays, there will be a natural increase of about 800 billion yen a year in social security spending. But the government, which has put priority on fixing the nation's severe fiscal situation, is compiling a budget that slashes 220 billion yen every year from the projected increase in social security costs. This has led to major strains in medical and welfare fields.

 社会の高齢化に伴い、社会保障費は年に約8000億円のペースで自然に膨らむ。しかし、政府は財政再建のために、自然増を毎年2200億円ずつ機械的に削減し続け、医療や福祉の現場に大きな歪(ゆが)みをもたらした。

Furthermore, permanent financial resources for social security have not yet been secured, though the government's share of funding of the basic pension will be raised from the current one-third to half the total from this fiscal year.

 さらに、基礎年金の国庫負担割合を2分の1まで引き上げる措置が2009年度から実施されるというのに、いまだに恒久的な財源を欠いたままだ。

As a quick fix for strains in the medical and welfare fields and to obtain the financial resources to fund the pension system, the government managed to squeeze out financial resources for the fiscal 2009 budget by tapping surplus funds in special accounts, dubbed "buried treasure." But the buried treasure is not inexhaustible.

 政府は医療や福祉の歪みを応急処置し、年金財政の帳尻を合わせるために、09年度の予算編成では特別会計の積立金、いわゆる埋蔵金を取り崩すなどして財源を何とかひねり出した。だが、埋蔵金頼みはすぐに限界が来るだろう。

In its basic policy for overhauling the tax system over the medium term, the government and the ruling parties specified an increase in the consumption tax rate from fiscal 2011 on the premise of economic recovery. The government and the ruling bloc made a political pledge to simultaneously try to realize an economic recovery and stabilize and strengthen the social security system.

 政府・与党は税制抜本改革の中期プログラムで、景気の好転を前提に、11年度からの消費税率引き上げを明記した。景気回復と社会保障の安定強化に同時進行で取り組む、との公約である。

Although some Liberal Democratic Party members have voiced opposition to this policy, the pledge should be carried out as is.

 自民党の一部から異論が出ているが、このまま実行すべきだ。

===

Reform momentum building

Before the temporary financial resources are used up, it is vital to steadily prepare for the introduction of the social security tax.

 一時しのぎの財源が尽きる前に、社会保障税の導入準備を着実に進める必要がある。

To clarify the amount by which the social security tax should be hiked, it is vital to have a reform plan aimed at making each category of the social security system--pension, medical and nursing care--function properly in the rapidly graying society with a declining birthrate.

  社会保障税は何%必要になるのか。それを明確にするには、超少子高齢社会において、年金・医療・介護などの各制度がきちんと社会保障機能を果たすように改革するプランが不可欠だ。

Last year, The Yomiuri Shimbun proposed pension system reforms that included the establishment of minimum guaranteed pension benefits for low-income elderly people and the waiving of pension premiums for parents for three years after they have a child. The Yomiuri also proposed a comprehensive plan to reform medical and nursing care services whose main aim is to distribute doctors systematically and evenly.

 読売新聞は昨年、低所得高齢者向けの最低保障年金の創設や、子育て中の親の保険料無料化などを盛り込んだ年金改革を提言した。さらに、医師を計画的に配置することを主眼とする医療・介護改革案も示している。

2ケタ税率が必要
To realize the plan, the tax rate for daily necessities, such as food, would have to be 5 percent, while the rate for other goods and services should be set at 10 percent. Faced with an ultralow birthrate and the need to care for a growing population of elderly people, it may be necessary to discuss as the next step the adoption of a tax rate on goods and services of about 15 percent--a rate at the lower end of those applied in Europe.

 これらを実現するためには、食料品など生活必需品の税率は5%に据え置いた上で、標準税率を10%にする必要がある。また、高齢化のさらなる進行を見据えれば、次の段階として、欧州の最低水準である15%程度は検討しなければならないだろう。

Various proposals on pension system reform have been volunteered from every sector of society. The government's National Council on Social Security has put forward an array of options for the future course of the nation's social security system, including medical and nursing care services. All the proposals share the basic assumption that the consumption tax will have to have a double-digit rate in the future.

 年金改革は各界から、さまざまな提案が出されている。政府の社会保障国民会議も、医療・介護を含め、社会保障の方向性について複数の選択肢を示した。いずれも、2ケタの税率が必要になるとの認識でおおむね一致している。

An atmosphere conducive to social security system reform has been developing. Politics will be put to the test this year when it comes to the challenge of fusing this energy and applying it.

 改革に向けた機運は醸成しつつある。これをどのように集約し、実行するかが今年、政治に問われることになろう。

The social security system must not be shaken every time the administration changes. To assure the people a secure future, reform of the system must be carried out in a suprapartisan manner.

 社会保障制度は、政権が変わるたびに揺れ動くようなものでは困る。国民が不安のない将来を確信できるように、超党派で取り組まねばならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 18, 2009)

20091180141  読売新聞)

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