In a rare gesture of ministerial dissent over a government policy that has just been formulated, the industry and land ministers said Friday that a planned supplementary budget for fiscal 2002 is too small.

Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry, went as far as to call for the compilation of a second extra budget, stating that the initial supplementary budget will offer insufficient protection for small companies.

Hiranuma told reporters he issued this entreaty during an informal gathering of Cabinet ministers after a meeting in which they were formally instructed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to work on specific details relating to the compilation of an extra budget.

The supplementary budget will feature 1.5 trillion yen for both safety net measures and public works projects.

“The situation is very difficult to deal with by the 1.5 trillion yen planned for safety nets for employment and small and midsize companies,” Hiranuma said.

“There is every likelihood that an additional measure will become necessary,” as the government prods banks to speed up their bad-loan disposals, raising the risk of corporate failures and a spike in unemployment.

Chikage Ogi, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, told a separate news conference the 1.5 trillion yen earmarked for public works spending is paltry.

“The fiscal 2002 budgets we have secured for public investment fall 3.76 trillion yen short of those for fiscal 2001. So, adding 1.5 trillion yen is indispensable, or I think it is rather sparing,” Ogi said.

Hiranuma cited the rising rate at which public credit guarantee associations are repaying debts on behalf of failed small firms, draining fiscal resources.

“It would be quite difficult as the 1.5 trillion yen also covers employment measures,” Hiranuma said.

“I will exert every effort to implement this as the minister in charge. But if the situation gets worse, we will definitely have to call for an additional step.”

Ogi said her ministry has numerous projects pending and that she expects the planned budget to start to take effect in time for April or May, when public spending usually shows a seasonal decline.

“We have a second construction project for Kansai International Airport to improve its international competitiveness, and projects to build loops and other urban roads, among others,” she said.

“We want to use it (the budget) in a manner to have visible effects for the people, such as by publicizing areas in which we move electric cables underground before carrying it out.”

The other extra budget

The major opposition parties agreed Friday to jointly draw up an extra budget for fiscal 2002 on their own for submission to the Diet during the current session.

Secretaries general of the Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Party, Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party agreed their alternative budget would place more weight on measures to tackle unemployment and support small and midsize firms.

They also criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for breaking his campaign pledge to limit the issuance of government bonds to 30 trillion yen.

“I believe Koizumi should dissolve his Cabinet to take responsibility for failing to put the nation’s economy on the recovery track,” DPJ Secretary General Kansei Nakano said.

The current Diet session runs through mid-December.

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