© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker wearing a protective face mask walks past office buildings in the background during the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo
From Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan's ministries have called for a record $ 997 billion budget for the next fiscal year, the Treasury Department said as the new administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga questions the need to contain the pandemic and revitalize the economy.
General account spending for the fiscal year beginning April this year was 105.4071 trillion yen ($ 996.85 billion), surpassing the previous high of 105 trillion yen targeted for the current year.
The amount was boosted by demand related to urgent action to contain the virus spread and alleviate the pain from the economic impact that sparked the deepest recession in history.
"We remain committed to economic revitalization and tax reform, and will overcome the coronavirus crisis to pass the future on to the next generation," Finance Minister Wataru Ito told reporters on Wednesday.
The first Suga budget underscored the heavily indebted government's struggle to contain debt for snowballs double the size of Japan's $ 5 trillion economy.
Many of the applications submitted did not indicate the amount of spending, leaving room to increase the total as the Treasury Department reviews the applications and sets the amount of spending in late December.
Given the high cost of supporting an aging population and financing debt, social security and debt servicing budget requests were yen 32.9 trillion and yen 25.5 trillion, respectively, or more than half the total budget.
Virus uncertainty kept the Treasury Department from setting a cap on overall budget requirements, making it difficult to contain spending.
Two additional economic budgets created for this fiscal year to fight the virus will bring total state spending to about 160 trillion yen, or 1.6 times the original budget.
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