Public works budget up for review

The government’s top spokesman on Jan. 27 hinted at the possibility of reviewing a plan to spend 630 trillion yen on public works projects between fiscal 1995 and 2004.”As the government is now working to reconstruct the nation’s fiscal situation, the government may need to delay (the implementation of some projects) or review items (in the package),” Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama said at a news conference. To reduce the outlay for public works projects each year, the government is reportedly considering extending the program past the 10-year term without changing the package size. The government apparently wants to defuse criticism that it has failed to substantially review expenditures.The fiscal 1997 budget sets aside about 10 trillion yen for public works projects, about 20 percent of the general expenditures. Among other improvements, the 10-year package is aimed at raising the diffusion rate of the sewerage system to 90 percent and constructing 1.6 million housing units in urban areas in the early 2000s.