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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Thursday announced that bureaus requested 6.8 trillion yen in the general account in the fiscal 1998 budget, up 2.1 percent from the previous year and far exceeding the metro government’s upper limits amid financial constraints.

Despite an earlier order to bureaus to sharply reduce requests by reviewing all projects “without any sanctuaries,” the government will still have to trim some 140 billion yen from the requests, officials said. The metro government suffered a budget shortfall of more than 220 billion yen in fiscal 1996.

Requests for general spending totaled 5.3 trillion yen, down 2.2 percent from the previous year. However, repayment for local government bonds expanded by 30.4 percent, to 525.8 billion yen, pushing up the total budget, the officials said.

All bureaus except three in health and welfare put in smaller budget requests compared with last year. Of the three, the Senior Citizens Policy Promotion Office, a bureau specializing in health and welfare policies for elderly people, posted the highest request growth, at 7.6 percent, seeking 17.6 billion yen.

The bureau is expected to greatly expand its projects, building a variety of health and day-care service centers and facilities for elderly people in poor health. The office also plans to cut spending for the controversial “silver pass” free transportation tickets and a medical cost aid system for the elderly population known as the “maru-fuku” system. The system allows some 380,000 beneficiaries between age 65 and 69 to receive aid averaging about 72,900 yen annually.

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