The government began a new round of “shiwake” Thursday to review 90 projects worth ¥1.2 trillion in an effort to reduce administrative inefficiency.
In a morning session, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry looked at a program that effectively provides up to 100 percent guarantees for loans made by private financial institutions to small and midsize businesses.
The program was heavily criticized by outside experts.
Government efforts to confirm the suitability and effects of the program have not been sufficient, one participant said.
“The system is morally hazardous because it allows financial institutions to make loans without risk,” another said.
All outside experts who attended the session called for drastic improvements in the system, for which ¥4.2 billion has been earmarked under the fiscal 2012 budget.
In another session, it was decided to scrap a METI subsidy program to support traditional shopping arcades.
In a third session, the ministry’s Cool Japan campaign drew heavy criticism, with several people asking whether the government should play any role in efforts to expand overseas sales of manga, fashion and other goods that strongly reflect Japanese culture.
The latest shiwake process is similar to the one that began in November 2009 soon after the Democratic Party of Japan took power. In the current process, ministries and agencies are scrutinizing their own programs through discussions with outside experts.
It is scheduled to continue until June 21 and deal with 90 projects governed by 14 ministries and agencies.
Outsiders, six of whom work on each project, will decide whether the projects should be scrapped, drastically improved, partially improved or left unchanged.
Projects subject to the review include a road maintenance program worth ¥217.3 billion and Foreign Ministry overseas aid totaling ¥173.1 billion.
The screenings are open to the public and broadcast live on the Internet.
By cutting wasteful spending, the administration hopes to win public support for a plan to raise the consumption tax.
The administration hopes to reflect the results of the shiwake screenings in budget requests for fiscal 2013 that will be compiled in coming months, but each ministry and agency will be left to decide how its funding requests should be affected by the results.