• Kyodo News

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The government plans to deem only the most energy-efficient appliances as eligible for its Eco-point subsidy program for next January to March to moderate an expected sales drop after the program expires.

A separate subsidy program designed to encourage the purchase of gas-electric hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars will likely be terminated before its Sept. 30 expiration, after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry indicated ¥580 billion in funds allocated for the program are expected to run out as early as Tuesday.

The Eco-point incentive program, currently scheduled to run through December, offers Eco-points for the purchase of certain types of energy-efficient air conditioners, refrigerators and television sets with four stars on a five-star scale, allowing the buyers to exchange the points later for other goods and services.

But the government, which is considering extending the deadline for three months to March, plans to continue the program only for five-star products for the extended period.

“With advanced product developments, sales of five-star items are increasing,” Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima said Tuesday.

“We decided to narrow down the target items to highly energy-saving ones so we can make a soft landing (toward the expiration).”

The three-month extension is part of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government’s economy-boosting measures as signs of slowdown in the economic recovery have emerged amid uncertainty over overseas economies and the surging yen.

On the car subsidies, METI announced Tuesday that the remaining allocations declined sharply to ¥10.2 billion as of Monday from ¥21.8 billion Friday.

As the funds may run out as early as Tuesday, the government may not be able to pay for some of the requests for subsidies made on that day, according to the ministry.

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