By KEN SAKAKIBARA/ Staff Writer
November 27, 2021 at 16:05 JST
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Nov. 26 approved a record 36 trillion yen ($314 billion) supplementary budget for fiscal 2021 to get the economy moving again and provide cash payments to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the massive amount of government bonds needed to pay for the package, the outstanding balance of government bonds by next March is expected to top an eye-watering 1 quadrillion yen for the first time.
The supplementary budget will be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session scheduled to convene Dec. 6 and the Kishida administration is seeking passage before the year-end.
Among the measures included in the supplementary budget are payments to small businesses to help them recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 2.8 trillion yen is being set aside for the measure.
In addition, 1.2 trillion yen will go to fund lump-sum payments of 100,000 yen each for all children 18 and younger in households with an annual income under a certain amount.
It also calls for 6.5 trillion yen to assist bars and restaurants that cooperated with government requests to shorten their business hours during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
Reserves are also being set aside to deal with the pandemic, as fears grow of a sixth wave hitting Japan this winter.
About 2.3 trillion yen is earmarked to ensure hospitals are able to secure beds specifically to treat COVID-19 patients, and about 1.3 trillion yen will be allotted for the vaccination rollout program.
The huge amount of bonds required to pay for the measures in the supplementary budget will leave Japan at a debt level that pales in comparison with other advanced economies.
Public debt as a ratio of gross domestic product in 2020 was 256.2 percent, close to double the 127.1 percent ratio of the United States and far exceeding the 68.9 percent of Germany.
Kishida has vowed to continue to implement economic measures to resuscitate the economy reeling from the impact of the pandemic. Although he has acknowledged the pressing need to do something about the state of government finances, Kishida thus far has not offered any specific plans on ways to deal with it.
He also said he has no plans to raise the consumption tax rate, now at 10 percent, in the near future.
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