Lower House passes stopgap budget

Kyodo

With no initial budget for the year likely to arrive until May, the Lower House on Thursday passed a ¥13.2 trillion stopgap budget for fiscal 2013, starting April 1, to fund 50 days of government spending.

The provisional budget is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Councilors on Friday, for enactment the same day. It will be the biggest stopgap budget ever, exceeding the one worth ¥11.6 trillion endorsed in fiscal 1996.

Budget drafting for the fiscal year was delayed by the late formation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led government — 10 days after the Dec. 16 general election.

The biggest share of the stopgap budget, at ¥5.43 trillion, will fund social security, while ¥3.67 trillion will cover grants to local governments, the Finance Ministry said.

The government also plans to allocate ¥1.54 trillion for public works projects “in order not to hamper execution of continuing operations,” Abe said during a Lower House Budget Committee meeting Thursday morning.

The committee meanwhile decided to hold local public hearings on the initial budget for fiscal 2013 next Wednesday in Miyagi and Fukushima, two of the three prefectures most ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

A provisional budget is formulated to ensure necessary expenditures can be met, such as for social security, when an initial budget is unlikely to be enacted by the end of March.