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2016年9月 2日 (金)

予算概算要求 危機感の乏しさを憂う

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 31
EDITORIAL: Government still ignoring Japan's fiscal woes at budget time
(社説)予算概算要求 危機感の乏しさを憂う

In early August, the government set its basic policy concerning budget requests from government ministries and agencies, based on which the nation's fiscal 2017 budget will be compiled.
"We will thoroughly review policy priorities, do everything to eliminate wasteful spending and boldly focus on the substance of the budget," the government declared.
 「施策の優先順位を洗い直し、無駄を徹底して排除しつつ、予算の中身を大胆に重点化する」
 来年度予算編成の出発点となる各省庁からの概算要求について、政府が今月初めに決めた基本方針の一節である。

But for all these brave words, we are appalled by the government's apparent lack of awareness of the dire, unprecedented fiscal straits confronting the nation.
 言葉は力強い。だが現実はといえば、決意表明はどこへやら、未曽有の財政難への危機感の乏しさに驚くばかりだ。

Aug. 31 is the final day for government ministries and agencies to make their fiscal 2017 budget requests.
For the third consecutive year, their total budget requests topped 100 trillion yen ($970.57 billion).
 きょう締め切られる概算要求の総額は、3年連続で100兆円を超える。

This can be attributed largely to the government's decision not to set a ceiling on budget requests and allow some budget requests to exceed the initial fiscal 2016 budget figures by nearly 20 percent.
 要求時の基準に天井(シーリング)を設けず、一部の予算については今年度当初予算から2割増し近くまで要求できる仕組みとしたことが大きい。

Obviously, not all requests are going to be met. They will be screened and trimmed by the Finance Ministry.
 もちろん、全額がそのまま認められるわけではなく、財務省の査定などを通じて絞られる。

Still, given the nation's serious fiscal problems, all budget requests should have been made in keeping with the government's basic policy, which went to the effect that every government ministry and agency "must thoroughly review and evaluate the performance results, efficiency and efficacy of its existing projects before submitting its budget request."
 とはいえ、厳しい財政を直視すれば、政府の基本方針がうたう通り、「既存事業の実績や効果を効率性、有効性等の観点から徹底検証して見直した上で要求・要望を行う」のは当然だ。

But how did individual ministries and agencies proceed?
 省庁の姿勢はどうか。

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism requested more than 6 trillion-plus yen for public works projects, up 16 percent from the initial fiscal 2016 budget.
 国土交通省は、公共事業費として今年度当初予算から16%増の6兆円強を要求した。

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's request topped 1.4 trillion yen, including a special account budget, up 9 percent from fiscal 2016.
経済産業省も、特別会計分を含めて9%増の1兆4千億円余を求めた。

But the Reconstruction Agency, whose reconstruction projects in areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 have already peaked, requested a smaller budget than for fiscal 2016.
Still, most government ministries and agencies seem intent on maximizing their chances of securing as much funding as possible by requesting as much as they could.
被災地での復旧事業が峠を越えた復興庁が要求を減らした例もあるが、「できるだけ多くの予算を獲得するために目いっぱい要求する」と言わんばかりの省庁が多い。

Against this backdrop, what attracted our attention was the budget sought by the Cabinet Office for promoting Okinawa's development. The requested amount of 321 billion yen was 14 billion yen less than in the initial fiscal 2016 budget.
 そうした中で目を引くのが、内閣府が所管する沖縄振興予算だ。要求額は今年度当初より140億円少ない3210億円。

Some people claim this reduction is meant to "restrain" Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, with whom the central government has been at odds over the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in Nago.
米軍普天間飛行場の名護市辺野古への移設計画をめぐって対立する翁長雄志知事を牽制(けんせい)したのでは、ともささやかれる。

Dismissing this allegation out of hand, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed, "When compiling a budget, it is only natural to make constant efforts to ensure the implementation of effective policies by reviewing various expenditures as needed. And the budget for Okinawa's development is no exception."
 菅官房長官はそうした見方を否定したうえで「予算については、効果的な政策を実現するために必要に応じて歳出の見直し、不断の努力をするのは当然。沖縄振興予算も例外ではない」と強調した。

If we are to take Suga's words at face value, then we must ask: Have all government ministries and agencies made such "constant efforts" in regard to their budget requests?
 ならば、問いたい。そうした「不断の努力」をすべての省庁がすべての予算について尽くしたのか、と。

Before the government started accepting budget requests for fiscal 2017, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year. With the additional issuance of construction bonds worth upwards of 2.7 trillion yen to fund more public works projects, the total came close to 3.3 trillion yen.
 来年度予算の概算要求に先立って、政府は今年度2次補正予算案を閣議決定した。2兆7千億円強の建設国債を追加発行して公共事業を積み増すなど、総額は3兆3千億円に迫る。

This is the same old pattern of using supplementary budgets as a "loophole" for spending more on items similar to those in the initial budget and letting the expenditures bloat.
当初予算と似た項目が並び、補正が抜け道となって歳出が膨らむ構図は相変わらずだ。

One thing is certain. So long as the government continues with this sort of fiscal management, the nation's fiscal health faces a long battle for recovery.
 こんな財政運営をしていては健全化への道は遠い。それだけは確かである。

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