The financially strapped Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Friday unveiled an austere 5.98 trillion yen budget for fiscal 2000, a decrease of 4.9 percent from the current year and its smallest in 12 years. The belt-tightening was made possible after slashing social welfare expenditures, city employee wages and eliminating some 80 city-run programs. Friday’s budget represents a step toward constructing “a leaner and more flexible” government, Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said at a news conference after its announcement. “I don’t mean to make comparisons with the national government,” Ishihara said. “But the nation still is overweight, diabetic and gouty, whereas we’ve dieted.” According to the budget, tax revenue in fiscal 2000, which begins in April, is expected to total 3.91 trillion yen, down 3.4 percent from the current fiscal year. The shortfall will be covered by borrowing from different accounts, issuing new bonds and temporarily cutting wages of all metropolitan government employees by at least 4 percent. It will be the first time for Tokyo to cut the salaries of its entire workforce at once. The pay cuts, along with the elimination of 2,138 jobs, will whittle some 143 billion yen off expenditures for the year. As for expenditures, the city will slash existing programs, such as medical and transportation subsidies for the elderly, by 117 billion yen, in what Ishihara calls the “first step toward reconsolidating Tokyo’s finances.” These, along with cuts in operating costs, will save city coffers some 190 billion yen, or roughly 30 percent of the 630 billion yen the city hopes to secure through such cuts over four years. Roughly 80 programs will be abolished, including the elimination of Tokyo’s overseas offices in sister cities New York and Paris. Along with cuts in exchange programs with Beijing, New South Wales, Seoul and Jakarta, this will save an additional 622 million yen.
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