Diet passes 2.67 trillion yen supplementary budget

Despite opposition parties’ mounting demands for revisions, a 2.67 trillion yen supplementary budget plan was enacted Jan. 31 without revisions at a House of Councilors plenary session.The Social Democratic Party voted for the extra budget package for fiscal 1996, helping the ruling Liberal Democratic Party attain its goal of having it pass in January. The Diet deliberated the package for five days.New Party Sakigake opposed it, as planned. Sakigake criticized the extra budget, pointing out that it runs counter to proclaimed fiscal reform efforts. The extra budget includes controversial outlays, such as 647 billion yen for public works projects and 310 billion yen to help rice farmers cope with the Uruguay Round agricultural trade liberalization.Diet proceedings will shift next week to deliberations on a 77.4 trillion yen package of budget plans for fiscal 1997 in the Lower House Budget Committee. Executive members agreed Jan. 31 that the committee will start a seven-day interpellation Feb. 3, when senior members of the LDP and the largest opposition party, Shinshinto, are scheduled to stand as interpellators. These will include Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka, the party’s policy chief, Takeshi Noda, and LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato.