Tokyo pares ’97 budget by 3.1%

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government unveiled Jan. 23 a budget draft of 6.66 trillion yen for the next fiscal year that features a 210 billion yen cut — the largest ever — from the previous year. The 210 billion yen represents 3.1 percent of last year’s budget.The metropolitan government has been in a financial pinch ever since the bursting of the bubble economy in the early 1990s, when revenues from corporate taxes — upon which it is heavily dependent — plummeted. Investment outlays, mainly for infrastructure, will see a particularly deep cut of 23.7 percent from the previous year, government officials said.But at the same time, the government plans to increase expenses for welfare by 2.6 percent, keeping an eye on the rapidly aging society. The increase pushes the welfare portion of the budget beyond 10 percent for the first time, the officials said.Meanwhile, tax revenues are showing signs of recovering, and the government expects a 7.1 percent growth in tax revenue from the previous year, the officials said. But a 355.6 billion yen shortfall will remain in the budget for the next fiscal year. The officials said it will be covered by emergency measures such as a transfer from a special finance adjustment fund.