Rebuilding projects not linked to disaster halted

JIJI

The government said Tuesday it will halt 35 projects budgeted to support the recovery from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami because they are not directly related to the disasters.

The suspended projects funded under the fiscal 2011 and 2012 budgets are worth ¥16.8 billion and are being undertaken by 11 ministries and agencies.

They include a ¥4.9 billion project by the land ministry to bolster disaster countermeasures at government installations and a ¥1.5 billion project by the farm ministry to improve antidisaster measures for irrigation facilities.

The decision was made at a meeting of a ministerial committee tasked with promoting postdisaster reconstruction.

The panel is made up of all Cabinet ministers and is chaired by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

The committee’s decision, based on screenings the government carried out earlier this month to cut wasteful spending, followed criticism that some reconstruction funds have been used for unrelated purposes, including measures to deal with whaling opponents.

The committee said the reconstruction and finance ministers will discuss freezing other programs if they are deemed to be unrelated to the disaster.

The panel adopted new budget guidelines calling for strict use of postdisaster reconstruction funds under a special government account for programs in stricken areas starting in fiscal 2013, which begins next April.

Noda urged his ministers to follow the guidelines in pursuing reconstruction projects.

The committee also basically agreed to boost overall government reconstruction outlays from the ¥19 trillion now projected through the end of fiscal 2015.