New economic package due next week

The government will release its latest package of economic measures next week, about a week earlier than originally planned, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Friday.

The package, which the government says will be intended to fight deflation, will be compiled in time for debate in the House of Representatives Budget Committee when it opens next Thursday, the top government spokesman told reporters.

The House of Councilors Budget Committee will begin its sessions on Friday.

Fukuda’s remarks came a day after the Council of Economic and Fiscal Policy, a top governmental economic policy-setting panel, failed to include specific measures in an outline of the proposed package.

Economic and fiscal policy minister Heizo Takenaka said Thursday the council would decide on the details of the package after a Financial Services Agency task force on bad loans compiles an interim report next week.

The administration had planned to release the package, which it says will also feature measures to promote the disposal of bad loans at banks, around Oct. 30.

Earlier Friday, one of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s allies in his ruling coalition complained that the administration has been taking too long to compile the package.

“We will press the government to quickly draw up and implement comprehensive economic countermeasures which should contain steps to stimulate demand, including the compilation of a supplementary budget,” New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki told executives of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

New Komeito is the Liberal Democratic Party’s largest coalition partner.

Kanzaki said the package should include measures to promote employment and to create a safety net for small and medium-size companies.

“The state of the economy can be described as an emergency,” he said, “and the government should marshal policy resources to demonstrate how to lift the economy out of deflation.”

Later in the day, Kanzaki told a general meeting of New Komeito lawmakers that the government is moving too slowly. “The government has only spelled out the (core) points it will consider including (in the package).”

The council’s outline raised seven points for promoting structural reforms — tax reforms, revitalization of asset markets, deregulation, urban redevelopment, safety nets for employment, safety nets for smaller firms and bolstering the corporate sector.