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Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009

Hatoyama vows to take ax to budget


Staff writer

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Monday he will follow as much as possible the recommendations in his waste-cutting panel's review of 449 public works projects in the budgetary requests for fiscal 2010, which came in at a record ¥95 trillion.

To slash the budget by ¥3 trillion or more, the Government Revitalization Unit also compiled a budget compilation guideline to eliminate overlapping projects and a plan to thoroughly review government-linked corporations where retired bureaucrats work in sectors they formerly oversaw.

The panel has not officially announced the total monetary value of what it deemed were wasteful projects that need to be scrapped or scaled down. According to media estimates, the nine-day open review weeded out projects worth ¥1.8 trillion.

Although the amount falls short of the administration's goal of trimming the budget by ¥3 trillion or more, Hatoyama praised the outcome.

"It was extremely remarkable that all people could participate" in the government's budget review process, Hatoyama said at a panel meeting Monday.

"It is extremely important for us to make sure to the wonderful achievements are reflected in the budget for the next fiscal year," he said.

As of Friday, the panel's working groups had recommended budget cuts reportedly worth nearly ¥750 billion and demanded the return of a further ¥1.05 trillion in reserve funds to the government's general account.

It remains unclear what impact the nonbinding recommendations by the working groups will have on the final budget, and many of the suggestions have already drawn fire from supporters of public spending.

The working groups reviewed budget requests for U.S. forces stationed in Japan, health care, local government subsidies, large-scale research and development projects, and administrative agencies.

Lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and experts from the private sector spent about an hour on each item on their list, grilling related officials.



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