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Japan’s ruling party executive signals chance of extra budget to combat COVID-19 strain

REUTERS

TOKYO — Japan may need to compile a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year to combat the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, a senior ruling party official was quoted as saying in a television program that ran on Sunday.

“If there’s any shortage of funds, we’d like to always respond aggressively including by compiling a supplementary budget,” Toshihiro Nikai, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s secretary-general, said in the program.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, however, voiced caution over the idea of compiling a supplementary budget, stressing that the existing pool of funds would be sufficient to meet any unforeseen costs.

“We can respond flexibly to any necessary (spending) under the previous fiscal year’s third extra budget and this fiscal year’s state budget,” he told parliament on Monday.

Japan’s parliament last month passed a record 106.6 trillion yen ($963 billion) budget for the fiscal year that began in April, which features a 5-trillion-yen fund set aside for emergency spending related to the pandemic.

Government officials have said the emergency reserves would be enough to meet near-term spending to deal with the crisis.

But some analysts anticipate more spending to be announced as politicians clamor for the fiscal tap to be kept wide open, with the economy expected to have suffered a contraction in the first quarter due to soft consumption. — Leika Kihara/Reuters

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