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Sales of flat-panel television sets jumped 60 percent and those of large refrigerators surged 120 percent in May thanks to the government’s eco-point program aimed at boosting sales of ecologically friendly home appliances, a marketing company said.

GfK Marketing Services Japan Ltd. surveyed 4,500 electronics shops nationwide during the week of May 18 to 24, comparing the figures with the same period last year.

As part of its economic stimulus package, the government launched the system earlier in May to give consumers subsidies to buy ecologically friendly electronic products, such as TVs and air conditioners that consume little power.

“The measure is very well-focused. It’s working greatly to stimulate the economy,” said Fumio Otsubo, president of Panasonic Corp.

“The (eco-point) system is bringing great effect,” Setsuhiro Shimomura, president of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said.

Some economists, however, suspect the effect will not last long as many companies have decided to reduce summer bonuses for workers amid the deepening recession.

Sales of air conditioners surged 45 percent in the week starting May 11 compared with the same period last year, but tumbled 7 percent the following week.

Kazuharu Miura, senior economist at Daiwa Institute of Research, argued that the eco-point system will not greatly help electronics firms because the effects are very small when compared with the size of their worldwide sales.

“(In addition), bonuses of workers are now expected to decrease. I don’t think many people will buy new home appliances to replace old ones,” Miura said.

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