The government should swiftly come up with measures to nurture fledgling industries in order to accelerate Japan’s economic growth, Economic Planning Agency chief Taichi Sakaiya said.
In an interview with Kyodo News, he said that it is necessary to promote economic structural reform focused on Japan’s aging society, the environment, information technology and city infrastructure.
Sakaiya, who was reappointed EPA chief, called for discussions in the near future on compiling a supplementary budget for fiscal 2000 aimed at carrying out such reforms.
It would be too late to start considering the contents of the extra budget after the release of data on gross domestic product for the April-June quarter, which is due out in early September, he said.
“If we wait to look at the GDP figures, we will have no time to carefully consider the necessity and effectiveness of the (budget) contents,” Sakaiya said.
He noted that supplementary budgets in the past have tended to include expenditures that failed to make it into ordinary budgets, and that critics have slammed the government for disbursing funds to projects lacking clear-cut goals.
Some government officials have been calling for an early compilation of an extra budget, but Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa has stuck to the view that the extra budget should be considered after the release of the April-June GDP figures.
Sakaiya also said it is necessary to clarify the financial burdens between the public and private sectors and between the central and local governments in carrying out the reforms.
On the economic and fiscal policy council that will be launched in line with the reorganization of government ministries in January, Sakaiya said that the council is likely to include the chief Cabinet secretary, the Bank of Japan governor and two new ministers — the economy and industry minister and the treasury minister.
The council will consist of 11 members and will be headed by the prime minister.
“There will be about four or five people from the private sector,” Sakaiya said. “The council will discuss all important economic and fiscal policies at least once and make decisions on crucial policies.”