Japan is pushing back its goal of achieving a primary balance surplus by five years to fiscal 2025 over concerns about possible slowdowns in economic growth during that period, a draft showed.

The draft for the basic policy on economic and fiscal management and reform was submitted to the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on June 5. The Cabinet is expected to approve the plan later this month.

Achieving a surplus in the primary balance of the central and local governments would mean that tax and other revenues could cover policies from social security programs to public works projects without the need to issue new government bonds.

The goal was pushed back in part because of possible negative economic factors.

For example, the scheduled October 2019 increase in the consumption tax rate from 8 percent to 10 percent is expected to dampen consumer spending.

A dip in economic growth is also expected after the conclusion of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

If the goal for achieving a primary balance surplus was set before 2025, the government would have little leeway to increase spending to prop up the economy against the expected negative factors.

Previous policy documents have established a target of about 500 billion yen ($4.5 billion) a year in social security spending growth.

But the latest draft of what has generally been referred to as the “big-boned policy” on reform does not contain numerical targets regarding growth in social security spending between fiscal 2019 and 2021.

It only includes wording that growth could be held to a level equivalent to expected increases due to the aging of the general population.

However, numerical targets have been set for fiscal 2021 to provide a guide to determine if efforts to achieve a primary balance surplus by fiscal 2025 are proceeding as planned.

Those targets set limits on the ratio of such figures as the primary balance deficit, outstanding government debt and the fiscal deficit in relation to gross domestic product.

The draft also calls for spending outlays in the fiscal 2019 and 2020 budgets to encourage consumer spending on housing and automobiles to offset the negative effects from the consumption tax rate hike.

The reform policy draft also includes items related to education, such as making higher education tuition-free for children in households with an annual income of under 3.8 million yen as well as providing other forms of support.

In addition, the draft calls for pushing up the start of programs to make education and day-care services for preschool children free from October 2019.