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The 77.4 trillion yen fiscal 1997 budget is expected to be enacted Mar. 28 — four days before the new fiscal year begins — with the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its small allies, the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake.

Executive members of the Upper House Budget Committee agreed Mar. 25 evening to vote on the budget plan late Mar. 28, which will be followed by a vote at a plenary session of the House of Councilors. The Lower House on March 5 approved the budget package, deliberations on which began in the chamber on February 3.

With the enactment of the budget, the consumption tax will be increased to 5 percent from the current 3 percent; the public will have to pay a greater share of their medical bills; and special cuts in income and residential taxes — worth 2 trillion yen a year — will be abolished.

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