つなぎ法案 協調維持へバラマキ撤回急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 24, 2011)
Handout policies should be sacrificed
つなぎ法案 協調維持へバラマキ撤回急げ(3月23日付・読売社説)

The nation faces a time of emergency in the aftermath of a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant accidents.

So it is natural for the ruling and opposition parties to close ranks to pass bills that are necessary to overcome the current crisis.

A stopgap bill has been submitted to the House of Representatives to extend by three months about 100 tax reduction and exemption measures that are set to expire at the end of this month. Two opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, submitted the bill in line with a three-way agreement they reached with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. It will likely pass the Diet before the end of this month.

A government-proposed bill on tax system reform calls for a cut in income tax deductions and other measures that the LDP and Komeito oppose. But if the bill fails to pass, it will lead to nullification of several measures that the LDP and Komeito do not oppose, including a tax break for home buyers, when the current fiscal year ends on March 31.


A tripartite agreement

To avoid this, the three parties agreed to draw up the stopgap bill containing only measures that can be approved by the LDP and Komeito.

The three parties have also agreed to pass a bill to revise the Customs Tariff Law to reduce tariffs on imported products and goods.

It is a basic duty of political parties, which are responsible for state politics, to try to avoid situations that would harm people's livelihoods.

But the ruling and opposition parties have yet to iron out their differences concerning the bill for expansion of child-rearing allowances and the bill to enable issuance of deficit-covering government bonds, which are among the budget-related bills.

In regard to the child-rearing allowances, the DPJ has given up its plan to provide an additional 13,000 yen per child from April and now is considering simply continuing the current system under which 13,000 yen a month is given to parents of children up to the third year of middle school.

The LDP is calling for the abolishment of the expanded child-rearing allowance system and restoring the former system, which covered children only up to the sixth grade of primary school and set an income ceiling for eligibility for the allowances.

The major opposition party proposed abolition of the expanded child-rearing allowances and nullification of a plan to make highway tolls free as conditions for approval of the bill for issuance of deficit-financing government bonds.


More concessions needed

Restoration and reconstruction in the aftermath of the enormous earthquake and tsunami are estimated to cost more than 10 trillion yen. The government cannot afford to set aside more than 2 trillion yen for payment of child-rearing allowances.

To ensure passage of the bill for issuance of deficit-covering government bonds, which is indispensable as a means of securing revenue, the government and the DPJ should decide to withdraw their handout policies, including the expanded distribution of child-rearing allowances.

If the DPJ announces its withdrawal of such policies, it will be able to align views and reach agreement with the LDP and Komeito on reinstatement of tax deductions for parents of children up to the third year of middle school--deductions that were abolished to secure financial resources for the expanded child-rearing allowances.

Concerning the plan to make all highways toll-free, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ohata told a news conference Tuesday that fiscal resources for implementation of the plan should instead "be used mainly for reconstruction from the disaster." He is quite right.

In addition to the budget and budget-related bills, the Diet will have to deliberate on special bills to carry out disaster-response measures. Therefore, both the ruling and opposition parties are urged to make concessions where necessary.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 23, 2011)
(2011年3月23日01時34分 読売新聞)

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