TOKYO (Kyodo) – Japan has yet to use about 20 trillion yen ($ 180 billion) of some 73 trillion yen under its three supplementary budgets for fiscal 2020 to fund plans for boost in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Kyodo News tally on Tuesday.
The conclusion based on data released by the Cabinet Office in May reflects the government’s slow response in its efforts to mitigate the economic fallout from the pandemic as well as stalled projects such as a campaign to promote domestic tourism in due to the spread of the virus.
The amount of the remaining funds was revealed as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party plans to develop another large-scale supplementary budget to fund further economic stimulus, apparently seeking to gain public support ahead of the general elections to be held in November.
The government has earmarked more than 3.6 trillion yen in financial aid for restaurants and bars that comply with local authorities’ demands to close or reduce hours of operation to curb the spread of the virus, but roughly 970 billion yen of the budget had been provided by the end of April. , according to the count.
Delays in office work are believed to be the source of the amount that has not yet been used.
Of the approximately 2.37 trillion yen set aside for the state-sponsored “Go To Travel” campaign, launched in July last year to boost the virus-stricken domestic tourism sector, only 940 billion yen have been delivered to tourists and service operators due to its suspension since late December in response to a spike in virus cases.
Government officials knew that supplementary budgets made in the last fiscal year would not be used up and would be carried over to that fiscal year, a finance ministry official said.
Many policy measures under the First and Second Supplementary Budgets have been implemented.
The fully executed budgets include those of 100,000 yen distributed in cash to all of Japan’s 126 million people to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and the distribution of washable cloth face masks known as “Abenomask”. Which means “mask of Abe”, named after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Both measures were implemented last year.
Money set aside for FY20 supplementary budgets includes 11.5 trillion yen in reserve funds to deal with the pandemic, which could be used without a spending breakdown and additional Diet approval. The government has allocated more than 9 trillion yen of these funds.
The Cabinet Office reviewed the state of budget execution, covering projects for which more than 10 billion yen of public funds have been allocated, with financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises excluded from the review.
A portion of the remaining funds will be spent in fiscal year 2021, which started in April or later.
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