Although the declaration of a state of emergency has been lifted, the economy will remain in a difficult situation for a while.
Strategic measures must be implemented to normalize economic activities while strengthening the safety net.
The government approved at a Cabinet meting a second supplementary budget that includes additional economic measures. These efforts, which include loans from financial institutions and money to be paid by local governments, total about ¥117 trillion, and reach about ¥234 trillion when combined with the first supplementary budget.
The first supplementary budget focused on supporting small and midsize companies and household budgets that have been hit hard by the spread of the new coronavirus. The second one also attaches importance to rescuing people and companies that could not be covered by past measures. It is appropriate to extend strong support to people and companies in need.
A new system will be created to enable people who cannot receive on-leave allowances from companies to directly seek benefits from the central government. The benefits will be 80% of their monthly wage.
Some companies do not apply for employment adjustment subsidies, which are provided to companies that put workers on leave instead of firing them, because of the complicated procedures involved. Even in that case, the employees will be able to receive benefits.
Freelancers will be eligible for a system, which did not previously cover them, to provide benefits for small and midsize companies and one-person businesses whose profits have sharply declined. Startups that have just been launched and do not meet the requirement of a year-on-year decline in revenues will also be included.
The problem is the slow response. The payment of cash benefits of ¥100,000 per person is notably stagnant. It is necessary to devise measures to ensure prompt payment.
With the patchwork of support measures, the system for those measures has become even more complex. Further efforts are needed to make people widely aware of the system. It is vital to examine whether there are wasteful projects and whether the system is being used effectively.
In the Tokyo metropolitan area, a growing number of commercial facilities, restaurants and others have resumed operations. It is important to create an environment in which people can go out and engage in consumption with peace of mind.
In the second supplementary budget, the government significantly increased the amount of subsidies that local governments can use to strengthen their medical systems, compared with that in the first supplementary budget. The subsidies will be used mainly to support the management of medical institutions, and pay compensation to medical staffers and others to help secure human resources.
Measures to help the medical field are extremely important. They are also essential in terms of preparing for a second wave of infections. The government should thoroughly examine whether these support measures are sufficient and consider additional measures if necessary.
In addition to expanding the safety net, it is also important to take steps to put the economy on a recovery track while coexisting with the coronavirus.
The government plans to gradually ease its restrictions on going out. In the first supplementary budget, the government has already incorporated measures to stimulate demand in the tourist and restaurant industries, with the aim of implementing them in July.
It is also hoped that every possible measure will be prepared to revitalize consumption.