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Friday, Oct. 23, 2009

New unit debuts to trim fat off 2010 ministry budgetary requests


Staff writer

The Government Revitalization Unit, a policy body aimed at slashing wasteful spending, kicked off Thursday tasked with scrutinizing — in open public view — budgetary requests from ministries for fiscal 2010.

Amid a sharp fall in tax revenues and the possible expansion of the budget, the unit, created under the new administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, will aim to cut expenditures to secure financial resources to fulfill election campaign promises made by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

At the inaugural meeting, Hatoyama said the budget will have to be allocated to "truly necessary spending" that the party vowed during its election campaign in August.

"We will have to cut (the budget) as much as possible to reduce expenditures," Hatoyama said. "I want every one of you to thoroughly slash spending."

Members of the body, chosen both from ruling coalition lawmakers and the private sector, will examine 100 to 200 projects included in the budgetary requests submitted by ministries. The screenings will be open to the public, the unit said.

Last week, the amount of budgetary requests submitted by ministries for fiscal 2010 reached an all-time high of ¥95 trillion. However, Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii said earlier this week the administration wants to keep the general account budget within ¥92 trillion.

Yoshito Sengoku, administrative reform minister, also stressed the importance of streamlining ministries' spending.

"Without trimming off fat and making our finances more muscular, Japan will have no future," Sengoku said. "We will completely reform the budget compilation process, make projects thoroughly efficient and prioritize them from the viewpoint of the people."

The unit will set up three working groups to review ministry projects and assess their need, effectiveness, efficiency and urgency.

The groups will report results to the unit by the end of November for approval. The government then plans to draft its fiscal 2010 budget around late December.

Members of the unit include Kyocera Corp. Honorary Chairman Kazuo Inamori and Kikkoman Corp. Chairman Yuzaburo Mogi.



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