• Kyodo News


The Democratic Party of Japan is prepared to revise the bills needed to put the fiscal 2011 budget into effect because the opposition camp is refusing to help the ruling party get them through the Diet, a senior DPJ lawmaker said Friday.

DPJ Diet affairs chief Jun Azumi told a meeting with his opposition party counterparts that the DPJ will be open to amending bills that would enable the government to issue special deficit-covering bonds to finance the budget and allow tax changes in fiscal 2011, which starts in April.

Azumi also told them that a vote on the bills in the Lower House, which would precede the vote in the Upper House, would not take place at the same time as the vote on the budget plan.

The DPJ decided to hold the vote on the budget first so it can take effect even if the opposition-controlled Upper House rejects it. It is expected to be approved by the Lower House on Monday.

But the related bills must be passed by the Upper House or approved by a two-thirds majority when voted on again in the more powerful lower chamber — a level of support the ruling coalition lacks.

The opposition is against Azumi’s unusual idea of delaying a vote on the related bills, saying that budgetary revenues and expenditures must be addressed altogether.

Azumi told reporters after the meeting that the timing of a vote on the bills is not dependent upon obtaining approval from the opposition camp, adding that the DPJ is ready to have deliberations on whether or how to revise the related bills in the lower chamber.

The remarks were made a day after the Liberal Democratic Party, the main opposition force, unveiled a counterproposal to the budget plan and at a time when Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government is at high risk of failing to secure Diet passage of the related bills before the start of fiscal 2011.

If the proposed bond issuance bill is voted down, the government will be unable to issue deficit-covering bonds to make up for a ¥38.20 trillion shortfall in the ¥92.41 trillion budget for the new fiscal year.

The bill to review taxation includes cutting the effective corporate tax rate by 5 points, which has been hailed by business leaders as a step to aid the flagging economy’s recovery.

Under the latest proposal, the LDP is planning to downsize the fiscal 2011 budget to ¥89.35 trillion. It has urged that taxpayer money be saved by stopping such key DPJ policies as monthly child allowances and toll-free expressways.

The LDP hopes the government will cut the issuance of deficit-covering bonds by ¥1.8 trillion to bring the total of new bond issuance to ¥42.49 trillion, compared with the government’s ¥44.29 trillion, though it calls for more expenditures for public works projects.

Koichiro Gemba, national policy minister who also serves as the DPJ’s policy chief, said at a news conference that some of the points mentioned in the counterproposal appear to be unrealistic and the party would not accept it.

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