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2013年12月26日 (木)

14年度予算案 景気重視で消費増税乗り切れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 25, 2013
Fiscal 2014 budget must be utilized to weather consumption tax hike
14年度予算案 景気重視で消費増税乗り切れ(12月25日付・読売社説)
 ◆無駄な歳出の見直しは道半ばだ

The government must do its utmost to strengthen economic growth to prevent the economy from stalling when the consumption tax rate is increased to 8 percent in April.
 来年4月の消費税率8%への引き上げによる景気失速をどう防ぐか。成長力の強化に全力を尽くさねばならない。

On Tuesday, the government adopted a budget for fiscal 2014. The general-account budget, which will be spent in most policy fields and for interest payments on government bonds, has swollen to a record ¥95.9 trillion, up 3.5 percent from the initial budget for fiscal 2013.
 政府は2014年度予算案を決めた。政策や国債の利払いなどに使う一般会計総額は、13年度当初予算比3・5%増の95・9兆円と過去最大に膨らんだ。

Regarding the fiscal 2014 budget and the ¥5.5 trillion supplementary budget for fiscal 2013 as a seamless 15-month budget, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “We’d like to have the economic recovery spread throughout the country, leading to vigorous economic growth.”
 安倍首相は予算案を5・5兆円の13年度補正予算案と一体の「15か月予算」と位置づけ、「景気回復を全国津々浦々に届けて力強い成長につなげたい」と述べた。

Social security reform urged
 ◆社会保障改革を急げ

Thanks to the positive effects of Abenomics, the economic policy championed by the Abe administration, economic recovery has become more apparent. However, we cannot be overly optimistic about the future. It is therefore appropriate for the government to have compiled a large-scale budget emphasizing stimulation of the economy.
 安倍政権の経済政策「アベノミクス」の効果で、景気回復は鮮明になってきたが、先行きは楽観できない。景気重視で大型予算を編成した狙いは適切である。

Due to the consumption tax hike and economic pickup, the government has projected tax revenues will increase by about ¥7 trillion to ¥50 trillion, allowing it to relax fiscal discipline. As a result, the government has not bothered to drastically review the rigid expenditure structure.
 反面、消費増税と景気回復の追い風で、税収が約7兆円増えて50兆円に達すると見込んだことから財政規律が緩み、硬直化した歳出構造の大胆な見直しには踏み込めなかった。

It appears that the difficulty of both realizing economic rejuvenation and restoring fiscal health, which Abe is aiming at, has been brought to the fore once again.
 首相が目標とする「経済再生と財政健全化の同時達成」の難しさを改めて浮き彫りにしたと言えよう。

Symbolic of this is social security spending—the largest outlay—which has topped the ¥30 trillion mark for the first time.
 象徴的なのが、最大の歳出項目である社会保障費が、初めて30兆円を超えたことである。

Natural increases in health care and nursing care expenses alone have reached more than ¥600 billion. Obviously, spending cuts were woefully inadequate.
 医療や介護などの自然増分だけで6000億円以上に上った。歳出の切り込み不足は否めない。

In line with the aging society, social security expenses are projected to continue to increase by about ¥1 trillion annually. To allay public anxiety about the future, it is necessary to expedite reform to create a sustainable social security system.
 高齢化の進行に伴い、今後も毎年1兆円程度ずつ膨らむ見通しだ。国民の将来不安を和らげるには、持続可能な社会保障制度を目指し、改革を急ぐ必要がある。

It also will be necessary for the government to study the possibility of lowering pension benefits, while at the same time making efforts to hold down health care expenses through the promotion of inexpensive generic drugs and other measures.
 価格が安い後発医薬品の普及などで医療費を抑える努力を続けるとともに、年金の給付水準の引き下げも検討すべきだろう。

Spending on public works totals a little less than ¥6 trillion, up 2 percent in real terms. But when it is combined with the ¥1 trillion outlay included as advance spending in the 2013 supplementary budget, the expenditure represents a significant year-on-year increase.
 公共事業費は実質2%増の6兆円弱だったが、今年度補正予算案で約1兆円を前倒しで計上した分を含めると、大幅増額になる。

There has been an increase in cases in which bidding for public works projects has failed, primarily because of soaring material prices and a shortage of manpower. Some experts have said the effect of such projects on stimulating the overall economy has become weaker.
 資材価格の高騰や人手不足で公共事業の入札が不調となる例も増え、景気を刺激する即効性が薄れてきたと指摘される。

The government should reduce the list of public works projects and concentrate on those most urgently needed, thereby smoothly implementing such projects and increasing their effectiveness.
 必要性の高い事業を絞り込み、円滑な執行によって効果を上げる方策が求められよう。

The government has incorporated in the 2014 budget a ¥1.9 trillion outlay earmarked as a “budget to promote priority issues,” including measures to promote science and technology, as part of its efforts to strengthen the foundation of the nation’s economic growth.
 政府は成長基盤の強化のため、科学技術振興策などを盛り込んだ「優先課題推進枠」に1・9兆円を計上した。

We hope the government will tackle projects deemed highly effective, thus accelerating its growth strategy, together with the promotion of regulatory reforms.
有効な事業を選別し、規制改革の推進と併せて、成長戦略を加速してもらいたい。

The new budget also entails large funding for projects related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Spending includes a sharp increase in sports-related appropriations, as well as expenditures for improving highways and other transportation networks in Tokyo and neighboring areas.
 2020年の東京五輪・パラリンピック関連の事業にも力を入れた。スポーツ予算を大幅に増やしたほか、道路など首都圏の交通網整備も充実させる。

However, measures must be taken to prevent wasteful spending, such as in the form of appropriations for massive construction plans for athletic facilities.
ただし、巨大な競技施設の建設などでの無駄遣いを防がねばならない。

Large defense outlay
 ◆防衛費の増額は当然だ

The budget incorporates a second consecutive yearly increase in defense spending, largely in consideration of China’s increased maritime activities and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats in recent years. Given the deterioration in Japan’s current national security environment, the government has every reason to increase expenditures to improve vigilance and surveillance activities by the Self-Defense Forces.
 防衛費は、中国の海洋進出や北朝鮮の核・ミサイルの脅威などを念頭に2年連続で増やす。日本の安全保障環境の悪化を考えれば、自衛隊の警戒監視体制を強化するための歳出増は当然だ。

Another feature of the budget is unusual growth in appropriations for policies and projects designed to facilitate economic and other forms of advancement in Okinawa Prefecture. In finalizing the budget, the government has approved increases in excess of the amount requested by the Okinawa prefectural government. The government’s decision is apparently intended to create an environment to encourage the local government to approve an offshore reclamation project in the Henoko area of Nago. The prefectural government’s approval is essential to ensure progress in relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station from Ginowan to Nago.
 沖縄振興予算は、要望を上回る異例の増額を認めた。沖縄県の米軍普天間飛行場の移設に必要な名護市辺野古の埋め立てについて、県の承認を得るための環境整備を図っているのだろう。

The budget will also increase funding for projects aimed at resolving problems arising from the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. It is reasonable for the national government to play a proactive role in carrying out tasks needed to overcome the problems, including the decontamination of disaster-affected areas, a task that must be fulfilled by bearing its fair share of costs.
 東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の事故に対応する予算も増額する。国が除染費用などで積極的に応分の負担をするのはもっともである。

In making appropriations for agriculture-related policies, the new budget will do little to ensure funds are allotted where truly necessary and curtailed where possible.
 農業予算はメリハリが乏しい。

Undoubtedly, the government has good reason for its reduction of subsidies to farming households that agree to curtail rice production. The move is intended to complement a government plan to scrap its rice production adjustment program based on acreage reductions five years later. This policy will target table-grade rice.
主食用米の生産調整(減反)を5年後に廃止するのに伴い、減反に応じた農家へ一律に支給する補助金を減らしたのは妥当だ。

Meanwhile, though, the budget incorporates new measures comparable to previous grants-in-aid for farmers, including a subsidy system that the government has said will aim to preserve farmland and the environment. However, it should be noted that giving generous subsidies to all farming households will result in failure to improve agricultural productivity.
 一方で、農地や環境の保全を名目にした補助金などを新設した。横並びで手厚い補助を続けていては、生産性は上がるまい。

The budget entails the issuance of new government bonds worth ¥41.3 trillion, meaning the government will take on that amount of new debt next fiscal year. The figure represents a decrease of ¥1.6 trillion from the current fiscal year, reflecting an anticipated tax revenue hike.
 歳入を見ると、税収増により、新たな借金となる新規国債の発行額は41・3兆円で今年度と比べて1・6兆円減った。

This means that the degree of dependence on the sale of government bonds—namely, the ratio of government bond sales to total revenue—will likely decline to 43 percent from 46 percent in the current fiscal year.
その結果、歳入に国債が占める割合を示す国債依存度は、今年度の46%から43%に低下する。

Reliance on debt too great
 ◆歳入4割が借金頼み

The primary balance shortfall is expected to decline by about ¥5 trillion under the next budget, meaning that funding for government policies covered tax and other revenue will decline by that amount.
 政策に使う経費を税収などでどれだけ賄えているかを示す国の基礎的財政収支(プライマリーバランス)の赤字額は、5兆円ほど圧縮される。

The government deserves credit for making some progress in achieving its target of halving the shortfalls by the end of fiscal 2015, compared with fiscal 2010.
 15年度までに10年度比で赤字を半減させる政府目標の達成へ、一歩近づいたことは評価できる。

However, the government’s reliance on debt for more than 40 percent of its revenue must be deemed to be extraordinary. Despite a drop in the value of new government bonds to be issued under the next budget, the total amount of government bond issuance will reach a record ¥182 trillion, including bonds previously issued to raise funds necessary for redeeming such bonds.
 しかし、歳入の4割以上を借金に頼るのは異常だ。新規発行額は減るが、過去に発行した国債の借り換え分を合わせた発行総額は約182兆円と最高額に達する。

If prices continue to rise as a result of the economic recovery, it will likely lead to a rise in interest rates sooner or later, thus resulting in a sharp increase in interest payments on government bonds. It is imperative that the government realize that it must continue to walk a tightrope in fiscal management.
 景気回復とともに物価が上がり続ければ、やがて金利も上昇し、国債利払い費が急増するだろう。財政運営の綱渡りが続くことを深刻に受け止めるべきである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 25, 2013)
(2013年12月25日01時19分  読売新聞)

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