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Cabinet OKs ¥13.2 trillion stopgap budget

Kyodo

With the initial budget for the year unlikely to be enacted until May, the government on Wednesday approved a ¥13.2 trillion stopgap budget for fiscal 2013 starting April 1 to fund spending for 50 days.

Because it covers pension expenses and large-scale public works projects aimed at stimulating the economy, the provisional budget is the biggest-ever of its kind, exceeding the ¥11.6 trillion stopgap budget endorsed in fiscal 1996.

The relatively recent formation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led government — on Dec. 26 following the Dec. 16 general election — delayed the drafting of the annual budget for the next fiscal year.

The Cabinet aims to secure passage of the provisional budget, the second in two years, on Friday, government officials said.

The biggest share of the stopgap budget, at ¥5.43 trillion, will go for social security spending, the Finance Ministry said. The measure will also cover ¥3.67 trillion in grants to local governments and ¥1.54 trillion in public works projects.

On the revenue side, the government will secure only ¥2.42 trillion from taxes and various commission charges at the start of the new fiscal year. To plug the revenue shortfall, it will issue financing bills for short-term funds.

For spending on reconstruction work in the areas devastateb by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which has been managed under a special account, the government drew up a separate stopgap budget worth ¥500.2 billion, the ministry said.

To move forward with the revitalization of Fukushima Prefecture, the government plans to allocate ¥3 billion in the provisional budget for emergency steps to encourage resettlement in the area, out of ¥10 billion earmarked in the initial budget.