« 記者の目:国交相「八ッ場ダム建設中止」、乱暴だ=伊澤拓也(東京社会部) | トップページ | 暫定税率廃止 財政にも環境にもよくない »

2009年10月 1日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 30(IHT/Asahi: October 1,2009)
EDITORIAL: Recompiling the budget

The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has officially decided to rework from scratch the fiscal 2010 budget plan, which the previous ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito had started working on.

The Hatoyama administration's stated aim is to stop the nation from getting deeper into debt and boldly slash wasteful spending to secure fiscal resources for the betterment of the lives of citizens.

We hope the government will stick to this basic policy. But since the public is not without concerns about some of the administration's specific initiatives, Hatoyama should make every effort to explain them, including the procedures by which policy decisions are made.

Setting its basic policy for budget compilation, the Hatoyama Cabinet decided Tuesday to scrap budget ceilings, marking the administration's first big step toward budgetary reforms.

The ceilings were exactly what perpetuated the nation's traditional, bureaucracy-led budget planning pattern of coordinating the interests of the parties concerned--a pattern that became firmly entrenched because the ceilings allowed budget planners to only micro-adjust the preceding year's budget.

Small wonder that the previous administrations lacked the mobility needed to compile realistic budgets in keeping with changes in society and policy.

The administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi introduced measures to curb public investment and discretionary spending, but stopped short of reorganizing the budget compilation procedure itself. Only a regime change could do that, which is what is happening now.

The Hatoyama administration plans to conduct a strict review of budgetary priorities by putting them back on the drawing board. It would be a real coup if the administration could pull this off. But obviously, compiling a budget completely from scratch without following precedents will be a tremendously tough challenge.

The DPJ used the slogan "the people's daily lives first" to sum up its core policy. This raised the public's hopes for a regime change. The crucial test now is whether the party will be able to follow this through in budget planning.

The party needs to be especially careful and resourceful when allocating funding for the programs promised on its campaign platform.

Regarding programs meant to benefit the younger generation, such as child allowances and tuition-free public senior high schools, we hope the party will heed the voices of the people and proceed as planned.

But given the funding restraints, it is also vital that the programs are sound enough to win the acceptance of taxpayers.

Allocating generous funding to every promised program is an extremely tall order. The DPJ must figure out what to prioritize, scrap or downsize.

In that sense, we believe the DPJ should reconsider its promises to make all highways toll-free (annual fiscal resources of 1.3 trillion yen are needed) and abolish temporary tax surcharges on gasoline (2.5 trillion yen).

We question the wisdom of spending trillions of yen every year on these initiatives that conflict with what we should be doing to curb climate change. Surely, there are other pressing needs on which to spend that amount of money.

The Hatoyama administration is now being tested on its decisiveness and accountability on many fronts, including overhauling the current supplementary budget implemented by the previous LDP-led administration to deal with the economic crisis.

The administration is also considering a budget-management system spanning several years to eliminate wasteful spending caused by the practice of using up any leftover budget before the fiscal year ends.

The administration has set a timetable that requires budget requests to be filed by Oct. 15 and the budget plan to be completed before the end of this year. This is an extremely tight schedule, but the economic crisis allows no delay in budget compilation. Speed is indispensable.


« 記者の目:国交相「八ッ場ダム建設中止」、乱暴だ=伊澤拓也(東京社会部) | トップページ | 暫定税率廃止 財政にも環境にもよくない »





« 記者の目:国交相「八ッ場ダム建設中止」、乱暴だ=伊澤拓也(東京社会部) | トップページ | 暫定税率廃止 財政にも環境にもよくない »