Until the end of the spread of the new coronavirus is clearly in sight, the government must support people’s daily lives and the economy.
A supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 has been enacted with approval even from major opposition parties. This includes measures against the spread of the virus.
The measures, with a total value of ¥117 trillion, have as their major pillar a cash payout of ¥100,000 to each member of the public across the board.
After a state of emergency covering the entire nation was declared, there are many households whose income has been reduced because of business suspensions and other measures. The aim to assist household budgets with the cash payouts is understandable.
Local governments will concretely implement the payout of ¥100,000 down the road. They should aim to provide the funds rapidly.
Restaurants that have complied with a request to suspend their businesses are facing hardship. There is also concern that manufactures’ performance will deteriorate due to the temporary halt of their operation or sluggish sales.
The supplementary budget establishes a system to provide up to ¥2 million to small and midsize companies whose sales have fallen sharply, and up to ¥1 million to one-person businesses. A new loan system with virtually no interest and no collateral to business operators has also been launched, as well as postponement of tax payments.
The government should make an effort to spread awareness of these measures so that managers can utilize various systems in combination.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to extend the nationwide state of emergency, which is currently scheduled to stay in effect until May 6.
Suspension of business operations will be prolonged, and companies will face increasingly severe conditions. To prevent bankruptcies as well as protect employment is vital.
Examining the economic trends, the government must take additional financial measures without hesitation, if necessary.
Many local governments plan to pay their own support funds to operators that have suspended their businesses. Some of them will do so by deleting funds that have been set aside for use in time of disasters as financial resources.
In the supplementary budget, the government will allocate a total of ¥1 trillion of special subsidies to local governments. It should increase this to boost the efforts of local governments.
Many university students are in a bind over paying their tuition or securing their living expenses because of the shutdown of places where they worked part-time.
The government has extended the scope of the application of employment adjustment subsidies to companies that put their employees on leave. Although this also applies to non-regular workers, there are some business operators that cannot pay leave allowances due to a lack of funds on hand.
It is necessary for the government to subsidize tuition reductions or exemptions granted by universities.
It is hoped that measures to prevent the collapse of medical services will be improved. In cooperation with local governments, the central government should promote securing and increasing hospital beds for the infected. It is indispensable to protect doctors and nurses from infection by securing materials including protective clothing and surgical masks.
The government will double medical treatment fees paid to medical institutions that accept seriously ill patients. It is important to assist hospitals in a wider range of ways by expanding the scope of such measures.
— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 1, 2020.