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2013年6月 8日 (土)

消費増税転嫁法 「還元セール」の混乱を防げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 8, 2013
Govt must take measures to prevent pricing confusion after sales tax hike
消費増税転嫁法 「還元セール」の混乱を防げ(6月7日付・読売社説)

The government has been urged to make its best efforts to take measures to ensure that the planned two-stage consumption tax hike starting next year does not cause confusion among consumers and businesses.
 消費者や企業に混乱を招かぬよう、政府は消費税率を引き上げる準備に万全を期すべきだ。

Special legislation passed Wednesday when a bill for the law, with modifications made by the ruling and opposition camps, cleared the House of Councillors. The bill encourages businesses to smoothly reflect the tax hike from April 2014 in the prices of goods and services.
 2014年4月の消費増税に合わせ、増税分を商品価格に円滑に転嫁するための特別措置法が、与野党の修正を経て、参院で成立した。

Effective through March 2017, the law prohibits major companies from using their strong positions to engage in dishonest practices such as pressuring suppliers and others not to reflect the tax hike in transactions to keep prices down.
 特措法は、大企業が強い立場を利用し、取引業者などに増税分を上乗せさせず、買いたたくなどの行為を禁じた。

Protecting small firms

When the consumption tax was raised in 1997, many small and midsize companies dealing with such major firms as supermarket chains were unable to compensate for the tax increase by raising their prices and had to absorb the burden themselves.
 1997年に消費税率を引き上げた際には、スーパーなど大手業者の取引先だった多くの中小企業が、商品に価格転嫁できず、負担をかぶる結果になった。

To prevent a similar situation, the new law rightly aims at allowing smaller companies to reject pressure from major companies without fear of reprisal.
 この反省を踏まえ、立場の弱い業者の泣き寝入りを防ごうとする狙いは妥当である。

We also welcome the fact that the special measure has taken into full consideration the possibility of a “tax shift cartel” whereby wholesalers and other suppliers would act in concert to increase their prices to offset the tax hike.
 納入業者がそろって消費増税分を価格に上乗せする「転嫁カルテル」を、特措法が例外的に認めた点も評価できよう。

One concern that emerged in the process of deliberating the legislation was what types of advertising by retailers for goods and services should be permitted when the consumption tax is raised.
 焦点となったのは、消費増税の際、小売業者などの宣伝の表示をどこまで認めるかだった。

Initially, a government bill for the law banned adverts such as “3 percent price cuts on all our goods,” which can be taken as sales that do not pass the tax burden on to customers. The government later withdrew the plan, amending the bill in favor of sales campaigns as long as the term “consumption tax” is avoided.
 政府は当初、「全品3%値下げ」など、消費税還元を連想させる表示を禁止する案を示したが、「消費税」という言葉が含まれなければ、容認する内容に修正した。

Under the legislation, such wording in adverts as “3 percent price cut” and “discount sales for supporting livelihood in spring” would be permitted. However, ads that aim at not reflecting the tax hike in prices, such as, “We’re offsetting the consumption tax hike,” are forbidden.
 「3%値下げ」や「春の生活応援セール」という表示は認められる。ただし、「消費税還元」など増税分を価格に上乗せしていないかのような宣伝は禁じた。

We think it was quite reasonable that the initial bill was reviewed in response to negative reactions from retailers and others concerned.
 小売業者などからの反発を踏まえ、見直したのはもっともだ。

Depending on cost-cutting efforts made by businesses, their after-tax prices could remain unchanged even after passing the tax hike on to consumers.
 企業の経営努力で、増税分を転嫁しても、税込み価格を据え置ける場合もあるだろう。

Still, the government must avoid unnecessarily restricting price competition among businesses, as well as their respective sales promotion activities. It is essential to avoid stifling businesses’ motivation to engage in fair competition.
 企業の自由な価格競争や販売促進活動を政府が必要以上に制約してはならない。何よりも大切なのは、企業の健全な競争意欲を萎縮させないことだ。

It is not easy to detect unfair practices in business transactions. Such watchdogs as the Fair Trade Commission and the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency must do their utmost to be vigilant regarding dishonest practices.
 商取引で起きる不正を見つけるのは難しい。公正取引委員会や中小企業庁などは、監視に全力を挙げてもらいたい。

Simple guidelines a must

Under the new law, the obligation on the part of retailers to comply with the “aggregate pricing method,” or repricing to include the consumption tax hike, has been relaxed. As long as companies make it known to the public that their prices do not contain the tax, they are allowed to display before-tax prices.
 税込み価格を表示する「総額表示」の義務も緩和する。税を含まないことを明示すれば「税抜き」の価格表示も容認される。

However, a situation in which some retailers explicitly display after-tax prices while others do not may lead to confusion among consumers.
 とは言え、税込みと税抜きの店が混在すれば、消費者の間に戸惑いが広がりかねないだろう。

The government intends to work out in the near future guidelines on how to implement the new law, as well as price display methods. They should be specific and easy to understand, and the government should make efforts to familiarize the public and businesses with the new law.
 政府は今後、特措法の内容や価格表示方法などについて、指針を作成する。具体的で分かりやすい内容とし、国民や企業に周知徹底を図る必要がある。

The decision to raise the consumption tax rate has naturally been premised on thorough consideration of business trends and other relevant factors. Still, the government must not neglect the need to sufficiently prepare for the tax hike’s execution.
 消費税率引き上げは、あくまで景気動向などの慎重な見極めが前提となるが、環境整備を怠ってはならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 7, 2013)
(2013年6月7日01時35分  読売新聞)

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