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Japan gov't submits to Diet record extra budget for virus relief

Update: June, 08/2020 - 10:13

TOKYO — Japan's government submitted to parliament on Monday a draft second extra budget for fiscal 2020, totaling a record 31.91 trillion yen (US$291 billion), to implement additional measures to strengthen the medical system and help people hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

With the supplementary budget, approved by the Cabinet on May 27, the government plans to roll out a new package of programs worth about 117 trillion yen focusing on support for small firms struggling since stay-at-home requests were imposed in April and medical staff at the forefront of the battle against the virus.

The budget for the year starting in April is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday and to be enacted the following day after its passage in the House of Councillors.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration drafted the new budget to double the scale of measures to combat the fallout from the pandemic. For the budget, Japan will issue 22.61 trillion yen of deficit-covering bonds.

Among the new measures is a subsidy program for rent payments for small businesses and individual proprietors running out of cash, covering two-thirds of them for six months with an upper limit of 6 million yen.

The government will also deliver 200,000 yen to each front-line worker at medical institutions treating COVID-19 patients and 100,000 yen to each member of staff at hospitals that have secured beds and are prepared to accept infected people.

As for assistance for companies which have been forced to keep employees out of the workplace due to worsening business conditions brought on by the pandemic, the upper limit will be raised to 15,000 yen per day per worker from the current 8,330 yen.

The budget also includes a reserve fund of 10 trillion yen for potential future countermeasures.

How to use the fund was not initially fixed. But after facing criticism from opposition parties that the amount is too large to let it be spent without Diet approval, the Abe administration recently decided to earmark 5 trillion yen for helping companies maintain employment and beefing up medical services.

Combined with the first extra budget for fiscal 2020, the government has said the enlarged economic package is worth over 230 trillion yen.

It includes government and Bank of Japan loan programs, and investment by the private sector, worth over 130 trillion yen in total, to facilitate fundraising by companies.

The first supplementary budget, amounting to 25.69 trillion yen, was enacted on April 30 for steps such as 100,000 yen cash handouts to 126 million residents in Japan including foreign people.

Amid a deteriorating economic situation and public frustration over the size and scope of the government's initial relief measures worth 117.1 trillion yen, Abe instructed officials to draw up the fresh supplementary budget in mid-May. — KYODO

 

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