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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

DPJ takes up beef against road levy with governors


Staff writer

As the Lower House on Tuesday began deliberating the bill to continue the provisional extra rates on road-related taxes for another 10 years, the Democratic Party of Japan, the legislation's key foe, held a joint public debate with the National Governors' Association, which supports the plan.

Although the two sides remained apart, the governors and opposition lawmakers agreed it is necessary to secure transparency in the decision-making process on setting road construction priorities.

DPJ participants in the debate stressed that local governments would benefit if the provisional rates are abolished and instead the local governments are granted the authority to use road-related taxes to suit their needs, including those pertaining to roads.

Currently, revenue from these taxes is used exclusively for road construction.

Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru said it is crucial for local governments to obtain stable budgetary allocations specifically earmarked for road projects.

"I am very confident that Miyazaki's tourism industry will flourish if our road infrastructure improves," he said, adding road-related spending has positive impacts on other aspects of public life.

Deputy DPJ chief Naoto Kan, however, emphasized that the current system should be abolished so the budget resources can be distributed with more efficiency.

"It's necessary to start from scratch, rather than start from the premise that the ¥59 trillion road budget will be used for the next 10 years," he said.

Fukuoka Gov. Wataru Aso showed some support for the DPJ proposal to have local governments granted the authority to decide how to use the revenue but added that more time is needed to address this issue.



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The Japan Times

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