Japan govt passes $800bn budget

Tokyo, December 24

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved today a record fiscal 2016 budget that counts on higher growth and tax revenue to achieve his aim of reviving the economy and curbing world’s heaviest debt burden.

But both targets look elusive, according to economists, as Abe’s strategy of relying heavily on growth and tax income might backfire. Without serious efforts to curb spending, they say, his budget-balancing goal remains a tall order.

Spending for the fiscal year starting April 1 will be 96.72 trillion yen ($799.9 billion), up a tad from this year’s initial plan to spend 96.3 trillion yen. The draft budget — the fourth since Abe returned to power in late 2012 — features record welfare spending to cope with a fast-ageing population and a military outlay that tops five trillion yen for the first time.