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2009年3月 8日 (日)

給付金支給開始 税金を使うことを忘れるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 8, 2009)

Planning, caution key to cash handout success

給付金支給開始 税金を使うことを忘れるな(38日付・読売社説)

The government has started an unprecedented operation to distribute flat-sum cash handouts, worth 2 trillion yen in total, to every resident of Japan.


On Thursday, a village in Hokkaido and another in Aomori Prefecture became the first municipal governments to implement the measure. But nearly half of the nation's municipalities will only begin distributing the handout from late April. Residents of such municipalities have called for the payments to be expedited.


It is natural that people who are struggling to make a living due to the current recession are eager to receive the cash benefit as soon as possible. However, since it took longer than expected for the Diet to approve the laws related to the cash payment, not all the municipal governments are completely ready to proceed with distribution.


Distributing the cash handout without sufficient preparation could lead to confusion and problems. We hope both the central and local governments will work to prioritize a fair and sure-fire distribution of the money.


The cash handout program is funded with surplus reserves held in the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program Special Account. The reserves should have been used to tackle central government debts. At the end of the day, the 2 trillion yen to be distributed to the public as cash handouts comes from taxpayers' pockets.



Questions left unanswered

The cash handout distribution system looks unsettled in many respects, despite the fact that it deals with a mountain of tax funds. Concerns linger that the payments might be claimed illegally, or that those receiving payments could be targeted by swindlers.


The cash handout is to be distributed based on the Basic Resident Register, but many homeless people and so-called Net cafe refugees have not registered a home address with their local government. Some municipalities are therefore studying ways to distribute the cash handout to people of no fixed address by treating the places they usually stay as a registered residence.


Schemes are needed to ensure the cash handout is distributed to the most vulnerable in society.


Some observers have warned, however, that a lack of appropriate checks on applicants for the handout program will allow illegal reception of the money, such as double dipping, to flourish--mediated by crime syndicates.


Local governments should at least retain the rule that every handout applicant must be registered as a resident.



Swindlers eyeing windfall

The current rules also state that every household head must represent his or her household when applying to the program. But if the head of a household is absent from home for a long time or cannot make an application for other reasons, an agent can be nominated to apply to the program on behalf of the household. In such cases, it will be vital to carefully confirm if a household head has actually delegated an agent to make the application.


Each municipal government has chosen or will choose a start date and draw up procedures for the distribution of the benefits.


In an apparent attempt to take advantage of the complicated distribution system and varying start dates, suspicious telephone calls, thought to be bank transfer scams, have already been made to homes around the country.


Municipal governments, police and banking institutions must now cooperate closely to prevent such crimes.


The cash handout will be paid by the municipality where each recipient lived as of Feb. 1, the base date for the program. The distribution process might, however, fall behind the schedule in some municipalities with huge populations since a large number of people are expected to have left or taken up residence in the areas after the base date.


The central government should not only pay administrative fees to local governments, but also try its best to prevent distribution problems occurring right up until the time the last payment is made.


If you do not apply for the program, you will be automatically considered to have rejected the payment. Some municipalities are asking such people to allow them to spend such unwanted payments on environmental and social welfare projects. Why don't you spend some time with your family to discuss ways to use your cash handout?


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 8, 2009)

2009380148  読売新聞)


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