Japan May Defer Virus-Hit Poor Families' Utility, Tax Payments

Politics

Tokyo, March 16 (Jiji Press)--Japan's government is considering allowing poor households to defer payments of taxes and utility bills amid the spread of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday.

The government plans to draw up measures to support people's lives by the end of this week, he told a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, Japan's parliament.

On a proposed cut in the consumption tax rate, meanwhile, Abe showed a stance of carefully examining effects of the step.

"We are ready to take unprecedented drastic measures so that people do not live in want," he said. "We'll swiftly consider a payment moratorium," Abe said, referring to electricity and other utility bills, as well as taxes. The government will look into the coverage of the moratorium by taking the impact of the virus spread on the domestic economy into account.

In response to a call from an opposition lawmaker for a cut in the consumption tax, which was raised to 10 pct from 8 pct last October, Abe said, "We will examine (the proposal) by fully considering to what extent it would be effective, as well as what we should do to stimulate demand and help the economy get back to a path of stable growth."

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Jiji Press