財政再建 先進国最悪の赤字をどうする

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 29, 2009)
Parties must show how to deal with deficit
財政再建 先進国最悪の赤字をどうする(7月29日付・読売社説)

How can Japan, which has the largest deficit among developed countries, rebuild its finances? This is a vital issue to be contested during the House of Representatives election campaign and a theme neither the ruling nor the opposition parties can avoid.
 先進国で最悪の赤字を抱える財政をどう立て直すか――。衆院選の大きな争点の一つであり、与野党とも避けて通れないテーマである。

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito is already armed with a passable proposed solution. The proposal comprises two fiscal reconstruction goals that were incorporated in the fiscal policy guidelines for 2009 approved by the government in June.
 自民、公明の与党側には一応の答えが用意されている。6月に閣議決定された「骨太の方針2009」に盛り込まれた、財政再建に関する二つの目標だ。

The first goal is for the central and local governments to achieve a surplus in their primary balances by fiscal 2019, which indicates a degree of fiscal soundness. The second is to lower the ratio of outstanding debts owed by central and local governments to the gross domestic product by the early 2020s.
 財政の健全度を示す国と地方の基礎的財政収支を19年度までに黒字化する、というのがまず一点。さらに、国内総生産(GDP)に対する国と地方の債務残高の比率を20年代初めまでに引き下げる、というものだ。

In the past, the government had planned to achieve a surplus in the primary balance by fiscal 2011, but decided to postpone the target year substantially after the initial plan became impossible due to the recent economic downturn.
 以前は、基礎的財政収支の黒字化を11年度までに実現するとしていたが、景気悪化で不可能になり、目標年次を大幅に先送りした。

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Govt sticks to goals

However, the government still deserves praise for not abandoning its goal of fiscal reconstruction. The central and local governments' combined outstanding debts are estimated to exceed 800 trillion yen by the end of fiscal 2009. They have already reached 170 percent of GDP. If the debts are left unattended, the nation is likely to face fiscal catastrophe.
 それでも、財政再建の旗を降ろさなかったことは評価できよう。国と地方の債務残高は、09年度末に800兆円を超える見通しだ。GDP比は約170%に達しており、放置すれば、財政破綻(はたん)国家への道をたどりかねない。

One measure to help achieve the two goals is to raise the consumption tax rate. The fiscal policy guidelines informally propose an option of increasing the consumption tax rate by 1 percentage point a year starting from fiscal 2011 until it has been raised by 7 points to 12 percent.
 目標達成の手段の一つが消費税率の引き上げだ。骨太の方針09は、参考資料としながらも、11年度から毎年1%ずつ、合計7%引き上げる道筋を描いている。

The consumption tax is significant also as a stable resource to finance social security expenses that are ballooning as the nation's population is aging and the declining birthrate indicates the funding from pension contributions will drop. It is reasonable to start preparations now so that the consumption tax rate can be raised as soon as the economy stabilizes.
 消費税は、少子高齢化で膨れあがる社会保障費を安定的に賄う財源としても重要である。景気が安定し次第、素早く引き上げられるよう、今から準備しておくのは当然であろう。

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan has not discussed fiscal reconstruction in concrete terms in its manifesto for the lower house election. On the contrary, the opposition party has listed in it a set of policy measures that would require large expenditures.
 一方、民主党の政権公約(マニフェスト)には、財政再建についての具体的な記述はない。それどころか、多額の歳出が必要な政策が並んでいる。

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Expensive promises

They include a child allowance, free public high school education, income guarantees for farming families and elimination of highway tolls. These measures may look like they would lead to a reduction of the public financial burden, but they do not--taxpayers will eventually have to bear the costs.
 子ども手当支給、公立高校教育の無償化、農家への戸別所得補償、高速道路無料化などだ。これらの施策は、国民生活の負担軽減につながるように見えるが、そうではない。いずれ税金で負担せねばならないものばかりだ。

The DPJ says that the party would be able to secure financial resources totaling nearly 17 trillion yen by trimming the fat in the budget and using the "buried treasure" that includes investment returns in the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program Special Account and the Foreign Exchange Fund Special Account, but we do not think it possible to find such a huge amount of money through such measures.
 民主党は、予算の無駄を見直したり、いわゆる“埋蔵金”を活用したりして、17兆円近い財源を確保するという。だが、それほどの額が見いだせるとは思えない。

The DPJ said that it would not raise the consumption tax rate for the next four years if the party takes office. DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama once said that his party would not even discuss the issue, but he has lifted such a ban--apparently due to pressure from DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada.
 民主党は消費税率について、今後4年間は引き上げない、としている。鳩山代表は、議論すらしないとの考えを示していたが、岡田幹事長に押される形で、その封印を解いた。

If he really means it, as DPJ leader, Hatoyama has a responsibility to thoroughly discuss the possibility of a consumption tax hike during the election campaign and to show voters how his party would handle the consumption tax in the future.
 そうであるなら、選挙戦で大いに議論し、消費税の将来像を示すのが指導者としての責任だ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2009)
(2009年7月29日01時19分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2009-07-29 08:32 | 英字新聞

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