Lower House passed 2004 Budget
05 March 2004
- The House of Representatives today passed the budget bill for fiscal 2004 without amendment and sent it to the House of Councillors.
The bill includes a cut in the total amount giving a priority to fiscal reform, but does not substantially review the structure of expenditure. The government evades the responsibility to implement necessary employment measures and to strengthen social security foundations for the reason of financial difficulties, which would not lead to autonomous and steady recovery, nor result in fiscal strengthening that the government is after. RENGO is deeply concerned about and do not accept the haphazard 2004 budget.
- RENGO had emphasised that a priority be given to strengthening the foundation for autonomous growth and that improving fiscal soundness should be sought for in the long run throughout fiscal structural reforms. It had called the government and the ruling coalition to redraft the budget so as to wipe off the uneasiness about the future and boost personal consumption by “creating jobs and reducing unemployment”, “strengthening social security foundations” and “revitalising local communities”.
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had also asked for a radical review of the government’s bill by the Diet, presenting its own budget bill incorporating various RENGO’s recommendations and prioritising social security and measures to support small-and-medium-sized enterprises, which was however ignored by the ruling coalition forcibly proceeding with the deliberation in the use of majority power.
- The government sees its budget bill as a resolution to go ahead with reforms under the slogan of “from public to private” and “from the State to locals”. But shares among public works projects will remain the same and regional subsidies will fall without reviewing fiscal resource shares between the central and local governments as part of the “three-in-one reforms”. The bill is preconditioned to reduce the total budget, being far from a radial reform in expenditures. As regards pension reforms, the bill postpones an increase in government’s share of basic pension contributions to one-half. It includes a programme targeted 40 thousand young people as part of Japanese ‘dual (training) system’, which is however insufficient taking into account that there are 270 thousand high school or university graduates out of work and 4.17 million young job-hoppers. Lack in effectiveness and sufficiency of these programmes will not wipe off the uneasiness of the people’s life.
- RENGO will demand for and work on the realisation of a fiscal administration aimed at connecting slightly boosted demands to employment improvements and leading to a good cycle to revitalise communities. In addition, RENGO will call for a withdrawal of the pension reform bills reducing benefit levels and increasing premiums in the absence of radical reforms which is one of the most crucial issues to be discussed in the current Diet session. RENGO will make every possible effort to achieve its objectives by developing nation-wide, urgent campaigns, including a “pension reform’ rally at the end of the month.