Aso keeps beating drum for tax hike

JIJI

The government should decide whether to raise the consumption tax after seeing revised gross domestic product data for the April-June period of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said Tuesday, signaling he is bent on hiking the levy.

Final figures are due out Sept. 9.

“We should confirm economic conditions (through the revised GDP data)” before making a final decision, Aso, who is also the finance minister, told reporters.

Aso reiterated his determination to push ahead with the plan to raise the 5 percent sales tax to 8 percent next April because the hike effectively amounts to a promise Japan made to the international community and any delay would have a significant impact.

At the Sept. 5-6 Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Japan will present its medium-term fiscal consolidation program based on the higher tax, Aso said. The government, therefore, should make clear its intention to push ahead with the levy hike after preliminary April-June GDP data are released on Aug. 12, ahead of its final decision in September, he suggested.