« 環境税導入 企業と家計の負担が重すぎる | トップページ | オスプレイ配備 より強固な日米同盟の象徴に »

2012年10月11日 (木)

復興予算「転用」 被災地支援が後回しでは困る

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 11, 2012)
Aid to disaster-stricken areas must be given priority
復興予算「転用」 被災地支援が後回しでは困る(10月10日付・読売社説)

Fiscal allocations for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake have been used for projects not directly related to disaster-stricken areas.

This diversion of funds cannot be ignored.

Under pressure from the Liberal Democratic Party at the House of Representatives Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, the Finance Ministry and other ministries listed projects under way. Many of the projects are suspected of not being essential to reconstruction.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry earmarked the cost for dealing with Sea Shepherd, an antiwhaling organization, as part of its reconstruction budget. Its reasoning is that unless antiwhaling protests can be halted, it will affect the reconstruction of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which has whale processing facilities.

The Justice Ministry allocated funds for vocational training programs at prisons in Saitama Prefecture and elsewhere on the grounds that inmates may work in disaster-stricken areas after being released. This argument is hardly persuasive.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has provided a subsidy to a contact lens manufacturing plant in Gifu Prefecture because the plant procures materials from the disaster-stricken region.


Okada's lame excuse

Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada explained at a news conference that "because we had to compile a huge budget within a short period, we didn't have time to go into details."

Based on its basic reconstruction policy, the government originally estimated 19 trillion yen would be required for reconstruction in the first five years. A total of 18 trillion yen was allocated in the first to third supplementary budgets for fiscal 2011 and in the initial budget for fiscal 2012.

The budgets are aimed at decontaminating areas affected by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, rebuilding infrastructure damaged by the earthquake-triggered tsunami and disposing of debris.

Under the pretext of using tax hikes as a major resource to carry out reconstruction, the residential tax and income tax will be increased over 10- and 25-year periods, respectively.

The government offices insisted on the validity of their budget allocations, arguing that the basic reconstruction policy includes such wording as "antidisaster measures will be carried out across the nation" and "reconstruction of the disaster-devastated areas will be impossible without revival of the national economy."

It is true that measures also must be taken in other areas to prepare for disasters and prevent the hollowing out of industry.


Significant delays

However, an anything-goes budget cannot be tolerated given the significant delays in the key reconstruction projects.

If government offices earmark spending even for projects that should be dealt with normally by the state budget because the reconstruction budget does not have a strict ceiling, it will invite a strong backlash from people who cooperated in the government's tax increase plans.

On this matter, the LDP is calling for screening the projects although the Diet is not in session. The Diet must scrutinize whether the reconstruction budget is being used appropriately.

Implementation of the budget has been delayed in disaster-stricken areas. Only 60 percent of the 15 trillion yen earmarked for fiscal 2011 was used before the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2012. Concerns have been voiced about the differences between what is in the budget and what is needed.

Tatsuo Hirano, state minister for disaster reconstruction, said, "We want to compile a budget for next fiscal year that will give priority to disaster-stricken areas." The government must make arrangements quickly so that the necessary funds can be allocated to these areas.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 10, 2012)
(2012年10月10日01時09分  読売新聞)


« 環境税導入 企業と家計の負担が重すぎる | トップページ | オスプレイ配備 より強固な日米同盟の象徴に »





« 環境税導入 企業と家計の負担が重すぎる | トップページ | オスプレイ配備 より強固な日米同盟の象徴に »