The land and transport ministry has outlined plans to expand the use of revenues from gas and other automobile-related taxes, currently used for road construction, for projects ranging from more ecologically friendly roads to electronic toll collection systems, ministry sources said Friday.
A draft by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry features plans to plant more trees along urban roads, expand subway links and subsidize the installation of pollutant-removal devices on big diesel vehicles, the sources said.
One principal objective of the proposals, they said, is to combat the “heat island” phenomenon in urban centers where the heat in the air is trapped by auto emissions.
The draft also considers tapping auto-related tax revenues to dispose of part of the 3.8 trillion yen in outstanding debts held by the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority. The move is in line with a recommendation by an advisory panel on ways to privatize four road-related public corporations.
The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority issue is expected to be discussed further by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, a key government panel chaired by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
The ministry came out with the draft after Koizumi ordered land minister Chikage Ogi to review the use of auto-related tax revenues for purposes other than building roads.
To alleviate traffic congestion, the ministry plan calls for subsidizing the construction of new subway lines instead of building more roads.
To cut air pollution, the plan calls for subsidizing up to 40 percent of the cost for installing diesel particulate filters on large diesel-powered vehicles.
It also features proposals to use the gasoline tax to promote electronic toll collection devices and to help develop environmentally friendly cars.
Koizumi told Ogi in June he wants to use part of the gasoline tax revenues to improve the environment.
The government has annually set aside some 6 trillion yen from gasoline and diesel oil-related taxes and a range of auto-related levies for its five-year road construction program, which entered its fifth year in fiscal 2002.
Of the 6 trillion yen, 2.8 trillion yen comes from the gasoline tax, which is 48.6 yen per liter.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.