POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 22, 2011
TOKYO >> Japan drew up an extra budget worth more than $50 billion on Friday to help finance post-tsunami reconstruction efforts.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan approved the budget totaling 4.02 trillion yen ($50 billion), the finance ministry said. Japan’s parliament is expected to pass the budget next week.
“This is the first step toward rebuilding Japan after the major disasters,” Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters.
The government will allocate around 1.2 trillion yen to fix roads and ports damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The twin disasters decimated much of industrial northeastern Japan and killed more than 25,000 people.
Under the budget, the government will spend over 362 billion yen to build temporary homes for disaster victims, with another 352 billion yen for clearing rubble.
The government has said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami could reach $309 billion, making it the world’s most expensive natural disaster on record.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Thursday said Japan should as much as quadruple its sales tax to deal with a crushing deficit that’s bound to grow as it spends on reconstruction.
Economists for the association of wealthy, industrialized nations said in a report that Japan’s public debt of more than twice its gross domestic product leaves it little choice but to gradually raise its sales tax, now 5 percent, to as high as 20 percent.