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2013年1月13日 (日)

緊急経済対策 「強い日本」取り戻す第一歩に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 13, 2013)
Stimulus package expected to be 1st step in restoring Japan
緊急経済対策 「強い日本」取り戻す第一歩に(1月12日付・読売社説)

The emergency stimulus package approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday is the first step in "Abenomics," which aims to spur growth and pull the nation's economy out of its period of prolonged deflation. The government must boost recovery efforts by implementing the planned measures swiftly.

The Abe administration has endorsed the urgent economic package of projects worth more than 20 trillion yen, which will be undertaken by central and local governments.

The administration will draw about 10 trillion yen from state coffers for the stimulus, which takes a three-pronged approach consisting of reconstruction and disaster management, creation of wealth through economic growth, and ensuring the happy livelihood of the public and the revitalization of regional areas. The package is intended to boost the nation's gross domestic product by 2 percent in real terms and create 600,000 jobs.

A draft supplementary budget for fiscal 2012, which will finance the economic measures, totals about 13 trillion yen, coming close to the size of the first extra budget for fiscal 2009 formulated by the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Taro Aso to counter a recession following the "Lehman shock."

At a press conference Friday, Abe said the government would shift from a policy of redistributing wealth amid economic contraction to a favorable cycle of growth and wealth.

We urge the government to take quick action to pass the extra budget early and bring about a robust economy.


Excessive focus on public works

We highly regard the Abe administration's stance, shown in the stimulus package, to push for companies' growth through such measures as promoting investment in the private sector.

However, the package as a whole appears to rely on public works projects seeking to immediately buoy the economy. The state spending on public works projects that the government plans to include in the fiscal 2012 supplementary budget amounts to about 5 trillion yen, exceeding that for the year's initial budget.

Only a one-time effect can be expected from a stimulus package centering on public works projects. In light of this, concerns linger over the extent to which Abe's stimulus will shore up the economy and boost employment.

The government also needs to speed up working out a comprehensive strategy to achieve sustainable growth. It is also essential for the government and the Bank of Japan to join hands to carry out bold monetary easing.

Striking a balance between driving growth and rehabilitating public finances must be a key aspect of such efforts.

As a result of high government spending, the issuance of government bonds for fiscal 2012, including both the initial and extra budgets, is expected to be about 50 trillion yen. This figure is significantly higher than the annual cap of 44 trillion yen set under the Democratic Party of Japan-led government to maintain fiscal discipline.


Fiscal health must be improved

To raise the consumption tax rate in April 2014 as scheduled, steady economic recovery is needed. It is thus inevitable for the government to focus on stimulus efforts with aggressive spending for the time being.

Nevertheless, it is important to prevent lavish spending and reduce expenditures, given that the nation' fiscal health is the worst among major industrial countries. Questions have also been raised over the Abe administration's apparent move to revive public works projects that were cut drastically by the DPJ-led government.

The Abe administration must not allow a fiscal 2013 budget to finance public works projects with low investment efficiency in the name of disaster-management measures.

The government should set specific goals to improve its fiscal health and quickly work on medium- and long-term measures to achieve sound public finances.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 12, 2013)
(2013年1月12日01時32分  読売新聞)


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