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Toll discounts to continue until June

JIJI

The government plans to keep the 50 percent weekend and holiday discount for expressway tolls until the end of next June, sources said Thursday.

Last week, three expressway operators, including East Nippon Expressway Co., announced plans to scale down the discount to 30 percent in April.

The government also plans to use tax money to keep the discount for frequent expressway users, such as truck drivers, at 50 percent, rather that the 40 percent planned by the expressway operators. This is intended to reduce the impact of lowering the late-night discount to 30 percent from 50 percent.

The government found it necessary to take the steps to ease the impact of next April’s consumption tax hike to 8 percent. Some ¥62 billion needed for the expressway discount measures will be earmarked in the coming fiscal 2013 supplementary budget, according to the sources.

Surveys by the expressway operators found that weekend and holiday toll discounts helped increase the number of tourists in such places as the Tohoku region.

The government hopes the envisioned measures will prevent leisure demand from decreasing, especially during Golden Week from late April to early May, the sources said.

Expressway discounts are applicable to vehicles with the electronic toll collection system. The discounts are financed by expressway operators and the government.