Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.29 (May 01, 2008) ============================================================
"Revenue sources for the people. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
Although the budget for the new fiscal year has begun to be implemented, I find it profoundly regrettable that two months after the start of deliberations in the House of Councillors, the House has yet to determine whether or not they approve, or seek to revise, the revenue bill that ensures the budget implementation.
Under circumstances in which Japan's combined national and local governments' debt stands at 800 trillion yen, we have lost 180 billion yen in revenue in the last month alone. If the current situation persists, the Government will continue to be deprived of six billion yen in revenue each day.
The situation has already begun to adversely affect the capacity of some local governments to provide services, such as education and welfare, to the people. I am also concerned that the current situation may impact negatively on local economies.
As the person who is in overall charge of the nation's finances, and who also bears responsibility for the people's welfare as well as for the state of the local economies, I decided that I had to take a step to resolve the irresponsible situation in which revenue shortfalls are continuing: I decided to put the revenue bill to a second vote, yesterday, in the House of Representatives and enact it into law.
Today, the provisional rate of the gasoline tax is reinstated at the same level as it was prior to its lapse one month ago. As a result, gasoline prices will rise once again.
Given the current severe environment in which the prices of many items are rising and everyone in the nation is scrimping and saving, it was a really hard decision for me to have to ask the people to once again bear this burden.
Gasoline prices have fallen and risen within the space of one month, resulting in the people having to pick up the tab for the political tangle. I have no intention of simply putting the matter to rest as a consequence of the so-called "contorted Diet" situation, in which the ruling coalition commands a majority in the House of Representatives while the opposition parties have control of the House of Councillors.
Firstly, the Government will do its best to avoid various kinds of confusion such as may be experienced at distribution points, including gas stations. Also, we will remain vigilant so as to ensure that attempts are not made to exploit this situation through price gouging.
Secondly, the eradication of wasteful budget items is a premise of all our reforms. Whether we are talking about revenue sources for roads or for other purposes, it goes without saying that we should not waste even one single yen of the taxes entrusted by the people.
We will investigate thoroughly every public sector body, ranging from all the ministries and agencies to independent administrative corporations and public interest corporations with links to the administration, to identify if there are any wasteful expenditures, as part of our efforts to push through reviews aiming at zero waste. Also, we will drastically curb the practice of civil servants obtaining posts in related organizations after retirement from public office.
Thirdly, keeping in mind that we have to construct roads that are essential for local development, and that support for local finances is also necessary, we will reallocate revenue sources for roads to the revenues used for general purposes.
When I visited a center for obstetrics and pediatrics services the other day, I saw with my own eyes the stark reality on the front lines. What was made clear to me, once again, was the necessity of realizing a society in which couples considering starting a family can feel secure about having and raising children.
In addition, due to the shortage of doctors--another issue that Japan is facing--the common sense idea that "when we are worried about our health, we can visit a doctor" does not necessarily come to the minds of those people living in the provinces, especially older people.
A variety of problems have been pointed out regarding the medical care system for people aged 75 and over. We will intensively monitor the system's actual operation and implement well-designed measures to address the problems that will be identified through our monitoring.
If financial resources are required to implement those measures, we will set aside funds, first of all, by eliminating administrative waste in accounts such as the one for roads.
Moreover, we should not overlook the need to respond to global environmental problems. The effects of climate change are not just somebody else's problem: we have to lead the efforts to tackle these problems by making wider use of the technologies for which the world looks to Japan.
Apart from the things I have touched on above, a plethora of other issues must be resolved, such as how higher education is to be improved. In order to proceed with these policies for the people, adequate financial resources are essential.
Japan is facing structural changes such as a declining birthrate and an aging population, as well as ones brought about as a result of global environmental problems. Against this backdrop, we will need to advance administration aligned with the perspectives of the people and the consumers.
An Agency for Consumer Affairs, the establishment of which I recently announced, will advance government policies from the perspective of the consumers. Likewise, uses of revenue sources for roads will be reviewed from the perspective of the people.
Reallocation of revenue sources for roads to the revenues used for general purposes is precisely the sort of action that demonstrates the change to an administration that acknowledges the leading position of the people. I am determined to abolish the system of earmarking revenue sources for roads, and instead use the revenue sources for various policies sought by the people. In other words, this is a reform to secure revenue sources for the people.
I ask from my heart for the people's understanding and cooperation.
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