消費税公約 引き上げを国民に堂々訴えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 21, 2010)
Parties must stress need for consumption tax hike
消費税公約 引き上げを国民に堂々訴えよ(6月20日付・読売社説)

Ahead of the official announcement of the House of Councillors election on Thursday, the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party recently hammered out drastic tax reform proposals, including raising the consumption tax rate.
 今月24日公示の参院選に向け、民主、自民両党が消費税率の引き上げを含む税制の抜本改革を打ち出した。

It is the wish of many people to rehabilitate this country's state finances, the worst among leading industrialized nations, and make the social security system sustainable. To this end, a consumption tax hike is obviously unavoidable.
 先進国で最悪の財政状況を立て直し、社会保障制度を持続可能なものにすることが、多くの国民の願いだろう。それには、消費税率引き上げが避けて通れないことは明らかだ。

It is the responsibility of politicians to try to convince the public of the need for a tax increase, even if it is painful. We hope to see the matter actively debated during the upcoming upper house election campaign.
 国民に痛みを伴う増税であっても、必要性を堂々と訴えることが政治の責任である。選挙戦での活発な論争を期待したい。

 ◆選挙戦術では困る◆
At a press conference during which Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the DPJ's campaign pledges, he referred to the consumption tax and said he would try to come up with an appropriate tax rate and tax reform proposals within the current fiscal year.
 菅首相は参院選公約を発表した記者会見で、消費税について「2010年度内にあるべき税率や改革案の取りまとめを目指したい」と語った。

As for the consumption tax rate, Kan also said that he would use as reference the main opposition LDP's proposal of raising it to 10 percent from the current 5 percent. Kan's comment is a significant change from former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's policy of making the issue of a consumption tax hike a no-go area.
 税率は、自民党が提案している10%への引き上げを参考にする考えを表明した。消費税の増税を封印してきた鳩山前首相の方針を、大きく転換するものだ。

The consumption tax rate, which was introduced in 1989 at 3 percent, was raised to 5 percent in 1997. Since then, past administrations have not squarely addressed the consumption tax issue. Kan should be praised for announcing a policy of raising the consumption tax rate this time.
 1989年に3%で導入された消費税は、97年に5%に引き上げられた。以来、歴代政権は消費税問題に正面から取り組んでこなかった。今回、菅首相が税率引き上げの方針を示したことは、評価してよい。

At the press conference, Kan also expressed his intention to seek the people's mandate on the issue in the House of Representatives election before implementing a tax increase. However, an ideal opportunity could be lost if Kan takes things slowly.
 ただ、首相は記者会見で、増税前に衆院選で信を問う意向も示した。こんな悠長な構えでは、せっかくの機運が失われかねない。

===

DPJ talk political posturing

Some DPJ members have said that if the DPJ proposes raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent as the LDP has done, the issue would not be a point of contention in the upper house election. This is, however, nothing but conventional election posturing.
 民主党には、「税率を自民党の主張と同じ10%にすれば参院選の争点にはならない」との思惑もあるという。これでは、従来型の選挙戦術と同じだ。

Kan's policy was met by a backlash within the DPJ. He should speed up intraparty discussions and establish his party's basic policy on the issue.
 首相の方針に対しては党内から反発も出ている。首相は党内論議を急ぎ、党としての基本的な考え方を固めるべきだ。

 ◆財政再建は待ったなし◆
The nation's debt-laden finances are in a critical situation due to the Hatoyama administration's dole-out policies that stuck to the DPJ's manifesto for the lower house election last summer, in addition to lavish economic stimulus measures after the bursting of the economic bubble.
 バブル崩壊後の景気対策の大盤振る舞いに、鳩山政権の衆院選の政権公約(マニフェスト)にこだわったバラマキ政策が加わり、わが国の財政は「借金漬け」の危機的な状況に陥っている。

It is estimated that cumulative long-term debts at the central and local governments will rise to 860 trillion yen as of the end of the current fiscal year--1.8 times the country's gross domestic product.
 国と地方の長期債務残高は、今年度末に860兆円と国内総生産(GDP)の1・8倍に膨らむ見込みだ。

The fiscal 2010 budget is abnormal, with tax revenues falling to about 37 trillion yen, lower than the new government bond issuance, which has swollen to 44 trillion yen.
 10年度予算は、税収が37兆円余りに落ち込み、44兆円に膨らんだ新規国債発行額を下回る異常な事態である。

Due to the country's graying population, social security costs, which currently total more than 20 trillion yen a year, will increase by 1 trillion yen every year.
 高齢化の進展で年間20兆円超の社会保障費は、毎年1兆円ずつ自然に増える。

In fiscal 2009, the government's share of contributions to the basic pension payments was raised to 50 percent from one-third. However, increased contributions are provisionally funded by surplus funds in special accounts, dubbed "buried treasure," and a permanent revenue source of 2.5 trillion yen will be necessary in fiscal 2011 and thereafter.
 09年度から基礎年金の国庫負担割合を2分の1に引き上げたが、これは、いわゆる埋蔵金で暫定的に賄っており、11年度以降、新たに2・5兆円という恒久財源も必要となる。

"Integrated economic, fiscal and social security reforms," as touted by the Kan Cabinet, can only be achieved with stable revenue sources.
 菅内閣が掲げる「経済・財政・社会保障の一体改革」を成し遂げるには、安定した財源があってこそである。

However, the income and corporate taxes that have been an important source of government revenues have substantially decreased due to the prolonged recession and a series of tax breaks. Therefore, the last resort is raising the consumption tax, a revenue source that does not fluctuate significantly due to changes in economic conditions and that spreads the burden widely among the public.
 だが、国の税収を支えてきた所得税や法人税は、長期不況や度重なる減税措置で大幅に減少している。頼みの綱は、景気による変動が少なく、国民が広く負担を分け合える消費税しかない。

The country's 5 percent consumption tax is exceptionally low compared with 25 percent in Nordic countries, 16 percent to 20 percent in Spain, Britain and Italy, and 10 percent in South Korea.
 世界的に見ても、25%の北欧諸国を筆頭に16~20%のスペイン、英国、イタリア、10%の韓国などと比べ、日本の消費税率5%は例外的に低い水準だ。

Sixty-six percent of the respondents to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted earlier this month said it is necessary to raise the consumption tax rate, greatly surpassing the 29 percent who said it is unnecessary. Many people lean toward the opinion that a consumption tax hike is unavoidable.
 読売新聞が6月に実施した世論調査では、消費税率の引き上げが必要と答えたのは66%で、必要ないとした29%を大きく上回った。国民の多くは、消費税の増税やむなしとの考えに傾いている。

===

Where to spend revenue
 ◆低所得者対策が必要だ◆

Bones of contention regarding the consumption tax are not confined to such issues as the rate and timing of its introduction. Therefore, wide-ranging discussions will be needed.
 消費税を巡る論点は、単なる税率や時期にとどまらない。幅広い議論が必要である。

The first point is where to spend the increased revenues from the tax hike. A 1 percentage point hike in the consumption tax rate would translate into a tax revenue increase of 2.4 trillion yen. If the tax rate is raised to 10 percent, tax revenues will increase by about 12 trillion yen.
 一つは、増収分の使い道だ。消費税率を1%引き上げると税収は2・4兆円増える。税率を10%にすれば税収増は12兆円ほどだ。

Currently, revenues from the consumption tax are distributed among three fields: the basic pension program, health care for the elderly and nursing care. But Kan has expressed his intention to aggressively invest increased revenues in growth fields such as medical care and nursing industries in order to increase employment.
 現在は基礎年金、老人医療、介護の3分野に配分されているが、首相は医療や介護などの成長分野への積極投資で雇用を増やす考えを表明している。

Using the increased tax revenues to expand government spending without careful consideration may simply repeat earlier mistakes. We believe the consumption tax will have to be spent exclusively for social security services.
 増収分を安易に歳出拡大に回せば、いつか来た道である。消費税は、社会保障に限定する目的税化すべきである。

Under the current system, 1 percentage point worth of revenue from the 5 percent consumption tax is allocated to local governments. In addition, a certain portion of the revenue is also provided to local governments as local tax grants. Consequently, the central government can spend only about 7 trillion yen out of the total consumption tax revenues.
 5%の消費税率の1%分は、地方に回すことが決められている。さらに、地方交付税に配分される分もある。その結果、国が使える消費税は7兆円程度しかないのが現実だ。

Even if the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent, therefore, the central government is unlikely to have enough revenue from this source. The government may have to consider setting the rate at 15 percent or higher in the future, just as European countries do.
 これでは10%に引き上げても十分とは言えないだろう。将来的には、欧州並みの15%以上への引き上げも考えるべきではないか。

===

Help low-income earners

Another issue will be how to reduce the financial burden on low-income earners.
 低所得者の負担をどう軽減するかという問題もある。

Because the consumption tax is imposed equally on everyone, those in low-income brackets tend to feel more of a burden than high-income earners.
 消費税は誰でも同じ税率がかかるため、所得の多い人より少ない人に相対的に負担感が増す。

To alleviate this problem, some countries have introduced a system under which consumption tax rates are set lower for food and other daily necessities. Such a system is worth considering in this country as well.
 海外では、食料品など生活必需品の税率を低く抑える軽減税率を導入している。わが国でも検討すべきだろう。

Another option may be to pay tax refunds to low-income earners to cover the cost of the consumption tax they pay for daily necessities. Before implementing such a system, however, it will be an urgent task for the government to consider introducing an identification number system for tax and social security in order to know which households will be eligible for the system.
 生活必需品の消費税額相当分を低所得者に還元する手法もある。対象となる世帯の所得を把握するには、税と社会保障の共通番号制度の検討を急ぐ必要がある。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 20, 2010)
(2010年6月20日01時19分 読売新聞)
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by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-21 04:52 | 英字新聞

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