• Kyodo

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The Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute claimed excessive personnel expenses by padding the size of its workforce in a report to the government, institute officials said Tuesday.

The institute, a foundation of the Education, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, reported in fiscal 1999 that it had a workforce of 2,676, 139 more than its actual 2,537, and used the extra money to increase employees’ salaries, the officials said.

Officials explained that funds for personnel outlays allocated for the true number of its staff were insufficient to cover actual salaries and so decided to declare its peak staff strength, including those who were temporarily assigned to other bodies.

Based on the reported number of officials, the institute was allocated 23 billion yen for personnel expenses in fiscal 1999, and on average about 500,000 yen extra was paid to each of its employees, the officials said, adding that the institute is doing the same this year.

The press office of the institute, based in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, said the government’s calculation of salary allotments for foundations is based solely on the number of employees and does not take into account such factors as older employees receiving higher salaries. As the institute has many older officials, it would not have enough money to pay their salaries.

It added that the institute will investigate the details of the case.

Commenting on the scandal, Nobutaka Machimura, minister of education, sports, science and technology, told a news conference that budgetary management and the quota of employees are within the discretion of the institute.

“I have ordered ministry officials to carry out an inspection and report the results within two weeks,” he said.

In addition to falsifying staff numbers, the institute was found to have kept two account books — one to be submitted to the government for authorization and another used internally.

It used between 4 billion yen and 6 billion yen of its internal budget allocated for “internal adjustment expenses” to pay for supplies, repairs, local promotional efforts and salaries for temporary workers from other entities.

Much of this money was taken out from its budget for operating expenses, but some of its uses constitute clerical expenses, which is banned by an internal code.

Institute officials acknowledged that spending the money on supplies and repair work may have been inappropriate and that they would look into the matter.

However, they denied allegations in some media reports that the money was a slush fund, pointing out that authority over the budget is the responsibility of its head and there is no obligation to report to the central government.

They added that in some cases, personnel expenses are included in operational expenses and that their actions were only aimed at securing a more effective use of funds.

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