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[TOKYO] Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday Japan is on course to meet his promise of halving the primary budget deficit - excluding new bond sales and debt servicing - in the next fiscal year.
Mr Abe, about to decide on a record budget with reduced new borrowing, made the remark at a meeting of officials from the government and ruling bloc where the annual draft budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1 was put forward.
The annual budget, to be approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday and sent to Parliament later this month, highlights the need for the premier to sustain growth while curbing the heaviest debt burden in the industrial world. "I'd like to have this budget enacted by parliament as soon as possible so that the fruit of Abenomics can spread through regions," Mr Abe was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying.
Finance Minister Taro Aso confirmed that Japan's annual general-account budget would hit a record 96.34 trillion yen (US$815.40 billion) for next fiscal year, up 460 billion yen from the current year, reflecting rising welfare costs.
He said tax revenue would reach 54.53 trillion yen, up 4.53 trillion yen from this fiscal year and hitting a 24-year high.
That will allow the government to trim new bond issuance by 4.39 trillion yen from the current fiscal year to 36.86 trillion yen, below 40 trillion yen for the first time in six years.
Aso told reporters the government managed to compile the budget in the way that would help revive the economy while restoring public finances.
Still, Finance Ministry calculations show that the goal of balancing the primary budget by 2020-21 remains ambitious.
The 2015-16 budget follows an extra budget of 3.1 trillion yen for this fiscal year, approved last week, which was aimed at spurring the recession-hit economy.