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Toshiba chief urges Eco-point relaunch

JIJI

The government should start another Eco-point subsidy program for energy-efficient products to help prevent any consumption tax hike from triggering an economic slowdown, Toshiba Corp. Vice Chairman Norio Sasaki said.

Considering the anticipated surge in social security costs and the Japan’s steadily worsening fiscal health, the government “has no choice but to implement it (the tax hike),” Sasaki said in an interview Thursday.

Sasaki noted that ¥3 trillion to ¥4 trillion in national wealth has been flowing out of Japan mainly due to natural gas imports following the nuclear shutdown prompted by the Fukushima disaster.

Proposing a new Eco-point program for energy-saving durable goods, including appliances and automobiles, he said that “it would help limit the expected fall in consumer spending, save energy and slow the outflow of national wealth.”

Sasaki is a private-sector member of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, a key government panel chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On Tuesday, Abe told his Cabinet to draw up a package of stimulus steps by the end of the month in case he decides in October to go ahead with the consumption tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent next April.

Sources close to Abe says he will raise the tax.

To support low-income earners, Sasaki said the government should provide income tax breaks or provisional benefits prevent a major fall in consumer spending.