Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa stressed Thursday he wants no increase in budget requests from ministries and agencies for fiscal 2002, so that government spending can be restrained.
“We cannot receive requests above the requests in the previous fiscal year,” Shiokawa told a meeting of the Upper House committee on financial affairs.
His comments were in line with the policy of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of restoring balance to the government’s deficit-ridden finances. Fiscal 2002 starts April 1, and government ministries and agencies are required to submit their budget requests for the fiscal year by the end of August.
Shiokawa also said he is not considering the implementation of an extra budget for the current fiscal year, at least for the time being.
“It may be necessary in the fall, but at the present, I’m not thinking of it,” he said.
Shiokawa was also quizzed on the feasibility of Koizumi’s avowed goal of limiting the issuance of government bonds to less than 30 trillion yen a year in order to help bring the state’s massive debt back into line. “It must be done by drastically slashing administrative costs.”
Touching on the proposed use of special road-building revenues for urban infrastructure development projects, Shiokawa said, “We will make an air hole by expanding the use in the fiscal 2001 budget.”
The special revenues, which come primarily from gasoline and vehicle taxes, have been used to improve the country’s roads and highways since the end of World War II.
Koizumi has suggested using some of it for other infrastructure purposes.
“I want to make the revenues part of the government’s general account revenues in fiscal 2003, when a new five-year plan for road constructions starts,” Shiokawa said.
Regarding the reduction of subsidies in the form of tax grants from the central government to local governments — another main pillar of the Koizumi government’s rigid spending policy — Shiokawa said he wishes to discuss the matter with the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, while making efforts to obtain the understanding of the public.
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