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The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry plans to seek 479 billion yen for the construction of toll roads and highways in the fiscal 2002 budget, about 7 percent less that this year’s budget, ministry sources said Thursday.

Total expenditures for planned fiscal 2002 projects, including those financed by borrowings from the government’s postal savings system, are expected to decline 8 percent to about 2.16 trillion yen, the sources said.

The construction budget for this fiscal year is set at 515.9 billion yen, up 16 percent from last year, with project costs totaling 2.345 trillion yen, down 1 percent.

The smaller budget request reflects the postponement of certain projects at Japan Highway Public Corp. in line with the government’s policy of cutting 1 trillion yen from funds to special public corporations, the sources said.

Metropolitan Expressway Public Corp. and Hanshin Expressway Public Corp. will also undertake fewer new construction projects.

However, the ministry will request an increase of about 2 percent for its overall road-related budget, in accordance with the expected growth next year in special tax revenues earmarked for road construction.

It will similarly seek a rise of 10 percent in money for road-related environmental protection, the sources said.

According to the sources, the ministry will refrain from requesting budget allocations for large-scale construction projects for ordinary roads.

Earlier this month, the government adopted guidelines for 2002 budget requests. It limits core general expenditures to 47.8 trillion yen, marking the first contraction in four years.

The guidelines also lower the ceiling for public works projects by 10 percent from the initial budget for this fiscal year.

The construction ministry therefore decided to reduce the number of new projects and give priority to ongoing projects with strong economic performance, the sources said.

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