あす消費税8% 社会保障安定への大きな一歩

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 31, 2014
Raising consumption tax rate to 8% big step for social welfare stability
あす消費税8% 社会保障安定への大きな一歩

 ◆景気失速の回避に全力尽くせ◆

On April 1, the consumption tax rate will be raised from 5 percent to 8 percent. The extra income the government accrues from this increase will be a source of revenue for the nation’s social welfare system.
 消費税率があす1日、5%から8%に引き上げられる。増税分は社会保障費の財源になる。

In addition to providing a robust social welfare system, the government must mitigate any negative impact the tax hike may have on the economy to ensure that the recovery does not lose steam this spring and beyond.
 政府は、社会保障制度を充実させるとともに、増税の打撃を緩和し、春以降の景気失速を回避しなければならない。

The effects of the Abenomics policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration have helped the economy get back on its feet. However, the work to shake off the shackles of deflation and generate genuine economic growth is not complete. Japan’s economy now faces a moment of truth.
 安倍政権の経済政策、アベノミクスの効果で景気は回復してきたが、デフレ脱却や、本格的な経済成長は道半ばである。日本経済は正念場を迎えよう。

The Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan signed off on the higher consumption tax rate as part of a three-party agreement on unified reform of the social security and tax systems. After the rate is increased to 8 percent, it is scheduled to be jacked up to 10 percent in October 2015.
 消費増税は、自民、公明、民主の3党が合意した社会保障と税の一体改革で決まった。8%に続き、2015年10月には10%へ引き上げる予定になっている。

Give future generations a break
 ◆次世代につけを回すな◆

Japan’s national debt exceeds ¥1 quadrillion. Its fiscal situation is the gloomiest among advanced nations. The chronically low birthrate and aging population, combined with a declining working population, have conspicuously resulted in snowballing social welfare expenses for medical, pension, nursing care and child-rearing costs.
 国の借金は1000兆円を超え、先進国最悪の財政状況だ。少子高齢化や、働く世代の減少などにより、特に膨張しているのが、医療、年金、介護、子育て支援などの社会保障費である。

Social welfare expenditures have already reached ¥30 trillion annually and are expected to go up by an additional ¥1 trillion each year.
 年30兆円に達している社会保障費はさらに毎年1兆円程度も増える見通しだ。

Meeting these costs through a massive issuance of debt-covering government bonds, which leaves future generations with the bill, must not continue any longer.
 巨額の赤字国債発行で、将来世代へのつけ回しを続けるべきではない。

By increasing the consumption tax, which can be collected widely from all consumers, the government can ensure a steady tax revenue stream for maintaining and improving Japan’s social welfare system. The significance of this point should not be underestimated.
 消費者全体で幅広く負担する消費税の増税によって、安定的な税収を確保し、社会保障制度を維持・充実する意義は大きい。

The government plans to spend the extra revenue generated by the tax increase mainly on strengthening medical and nursing care services that support the elderly, assistance for people raising children, and steps to combat the low birthrate.
 政府は増税分の使途について、高齢者を支える医療と介護の連携体制の強化、子育て支援、少子化対策などに充てる方針だ。

Given that each citizen will be required to shoulder an extra financial burden, the government in turn must implement effective policies to help them. It needs to quickly consider additional steps, including curbing medical, nursing care and pension benefits to help stabilize the social welfare system.
 国民に一層の負担を求める以上、効果的な施策を実施しなければならない。社会保障制度を安定させるため、医療、年金、介護の給付費抑制も含めて、政府はさらなる検討を急ぐ必要がある。

In the months before the tax hike went into effect, many consumers splashed out on durable goods such as bicycles and home appliances, and stocked up on a wide range of foods and household goods. This boosted demand and expanded consumption.
 消費増税に先立ち、消費者の間では、自動車、家電といった耐久消費財をはじめ、食品、家庭用品など幅広い商品で駆け込み需要が高まり、消費が拡大してきた。

As a result, Japan’s economic growth rate is predicted to be about 5 percent in January-March this year. The big question will be what happens to the economy after the consumption tax hike kicks in.
 それにより、今年1~3月期の成長率は5%前後の伸びが見込まれているが、問題は、増税後の日本経済の動向といえる。

Learn from previous hikes
 ◆成長戦略で基盤強化を◆

Japan’s economy tanked after the consumption tax rate was increased from 3 percent to 5 percent in April 1997. The situation was exacerbated by the Asian currency and financial crisis as well as financial insecurity.
 1997年4月に消費税率が3%から5%に引き上げられた際、アジア通貨危機や金融不安も重なり、景気は急激に悪化した。

Most analysts expect that Japan’s economy will also experience negative growth in the April-June quarter, partly due to the likely drop in demand after last-minute shopping sprees before the tax increase. Growth is forecast to return to positive territory in the July-September quarter, but the outlook does not warrant unbridled optimism.
 今回も、駆け込み需要の反動減による販売の落ち込みなどで、増税後の4~6月期にマイナス成長に陥るとの予測が大勢を占める。7~9月期以降、再びプラス成長に回復するとみられるが、先行きは楽観できない。

Abe said, “We will do everything we can to minimize any negative effects of the consumption tax rise, and quickly get the economy back on a growth path.” His comment is absolutely right.
 安倍首相が、「増税の悪影響を最小限に抑え、速やかに景気が回復軌道に戻るよう万全を期す」と強調しているのはもっともだ。

The aces up the government’s sleeve for buoying the economy are the ¥5.5 trillion fiscal 2013 supplementary budget, which centered on public works projects, and the initial general account budget for fiscal 2014, which will total a record-high ¥95.9 trillion.
 政府が景気下支えの「切り札」としているのが、公共投資を柱とした5・5兆円の13年度補正予算と一般会計総額が過去最大の95・9兆円の14年度当初予算だ。

The government wants this earmarked money spent ahead of schedule. To achieve this, it has set the numerical target of implementing “at least 60 percent” of budget spending on public works projects and other outlays in the fiscal 2014 budget before the end of September.
 予算が前倒しで使われるよう、政府は新年度予算の公共事業などの執行率を「9月末に6割以上」とする数値目標を設けた。

By quickly carrying out these projects, the government expects to avoid strangling the economic recovery. However, it is worrisome that a labor shortage at construction sites and rising building material costs have caused some projects to attract few bidders.
 迅速な執行を通じ、景気の腰折れを防ぐ効果が期待される。ただ、建設現場の人手不足や建材価格の値上がりで、入札が不調となる例が目立つのは気がかりだ。

Corporate investment in equipment and exports are major drivers of economic growth, but these still lack oomph.
 景気の牽引けんいん役である企業の設備投資と輸出は依然、力強さを欠いている。

Companies will need to brace for a dip in sales and other unfavorable conditions in April and beyond. It seems the ability of private-sector demand to orchestrate a robust economic recovery will be tested for some time to come.
 企業各社は、4月以降の販売減などの逆風も覚悟しなければなるまい。民需が主導する力強い景気回復に向け、試練が続きそうだ。

All this makes the second round of the government’s economic growth strategy, which will be unveiled in June, even more important. We hope the new strategy will shore up the foundations of the economy by incorporating a significant cut in the corporate tax rate, and regulatory reforms that stimulate business activity and encourage the development of new industries.
 それだけに重要なのが、政府が6月にまとめる成長戦略の第2弾である。企業活力を引き出したり、新産業の育成に弾みをつけたりする規制改革や、大胆な法人税率引き下げなどを打ち出し、経済の基盤を強化してもらいたい。

It also is important that the government and local authorities step up their monitoring to ensure that businesses can smoothly pass on the full tax rise to customers through higher retail prices.
 消費増税分を円滑に販売価格に転嫁できるよう、政府や自治体が監視を強めることも大切だ。

Pass on hike through prices
 ◆価格への転嫁は着実に◆

Steps must be taken to prevent large companies from exploiting their advantageous position to force suppliers to absorb the tax increase while freezing their own purchase prices.
 大企業が有利な立場を利用し、納入業者に価格据え置きを強いる買いたたきを防ぐ必要がある。

At the same time, it is problematic that government efforts to assist households whose budgets will be stretched by the higher consumption tax rate remain insufficient. The government has decided to provide low-income earners with a special cash benefit.
 一方、消費増税で負担が増す家計への対策が不十分な点は問題だ。政府は低所得者に給付金を支給することにした。

However, this will be a one-off payment to selected recipients, so it will have only a limited effect on reducing their economic burden.
 だが、対象者を絞った1回限りの給付では、負担軽減の効果は限定的だろう。

Abe plans to decide at the end of this year whether to go ahead and lift the consumption tax rate to 10 percent in October 2015. His decision will undoubtedly hinge on the economic growth rate logged in the July-September quarter.
 首相は、今年末に15年10月に消費税率を10%に引き上げるかどうか決定する方針だ。今年7~9月期の経済成長率が決断のポイントになるに違いない。

If the consumption tax rate is indeed bumped up to 10 percent, we think the government should introduce a reduced tax rate for some daily necessities. The LDP and Komeito have restarted talks on such a reduced rate. The two parties should quickly decide to introduce a lower levy when the rate is increased to 10 percent, and select which items should qualify for it.
 10%とする場合は、生活必需品の税率を低く抑える軽減税率の導入が不可欠だ。軽減税率の協議を再開した自民、公明両党は、10%と同時の導入を決断し、対象品目の選定を急ぐべきである。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 31, 2014)
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by kiyoshimat | 2014-04-02 08:35 | 英字新聞

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