04/09/2009, 00.00
JAPAN

Government to adopt 154 billion dollar stimulus package

Money is set to help companies and the unemployed and stimulate consumption. But experts warn it will just be a short-term reprieve that increases the tax burden in the future.
Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party released today the blueprint for a record US$ 154 billion stimulus plan, equivalent to 3.1 per cent of GDP. Prime Minister Aso had insisted on it and his government is scheduled to officially announce it tomorrow. It is not clear though where the money will come from but government sources say that it could be from new government, bench-mark 10-year bond yields worth 10-11 trillion yen. The plan is expected to include tax exemptions on home buying, a greater child-raising support allowance, help to jobless people, promotion for environmentally friendly products, measures in favour of solar panels and help for small companies in difficulty.

Japan is battling its deepest recession since Second World War with exports and domestic consumption plummeting and cuts in production and thousands of layoffs. Its economy shrank in fact 3.1 per cent in October-December from the previous quarter and is expected to have shrunk a further 2.5 per cent in January-March.

The government needs immediate results in light of upcoming elections. But analysts have warned that such a plan is likely to only have a short-term impact on personal spending without improving productivity. It will also not help the country rethink and reorganise its industrial model and economy.

“The contents [of the plan] look like temporary measures to front-load demand, but they do not pay attention to increasing productivity on the supply side,” economist Masamichi Adachi said.

Japan is the most debt-ridden industrialised country in the world and has already earmarked 33.3 trillion yen in new bonds for this fiscal year.

The stimulus plan also faces a potentially stormy ride through parliament, where the opposition controls the upper house and can stall legislation.

Mr Aso has threatened to bring forward an election due by October this year if the opposition stalls the package.

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