Two-step budget request process set

Kyodo

The Finance Ministry will screen budgetary requests from ministries and agencies for an initial fiscal 2014 budget in two stages, amid uncertainty over whether a sales tax hike will be implemented next year as scheduled, government sources said.

The ministry will complete the first stage of budgetary screening at the end of August and then reassess social security costs, which would be covered by increased revenue from the planned sales tax rise, in the fall after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a final judgment on whether to hike the levy, the sources said Thursday.

It is rare for the government to examine budgetary requests in two stages. The plan is expected to be included in guidelines for the compilation of the initial budget for the next fiscal year, was to be presented at a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on Friday and approved by Abe’s Cabinet next week.

Abe has said he will make a decision in the fall on whether to raise the 5 percent consumption tax rate to 8 percent next April, while closely monitoring economic data.