Slower tax revenue growth in aging Japan puts Abenomics at crossroads

https://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/slower-tax-revenue-growth-in-aging-japan-puts-abenomics-at-crossroads

TOKYO —

As Japan takes on the elusive challenge of fiscal reconstruction, slowing tax revenue growth is casting a shadow over the future of an aging Japan.

That bodes ill for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has touted recent growth in tax income since taking office in 2012 as one of the achievements of his Abenomics policy mix.

Under a draft fiscal 2017 budget approved by Abe’s cabinet, the government expects a 0.2% increase in revenues from corporate, income and sales taxes to 57.71 trillion yen ($490 billion).

The yen’s advance against other major currencies prompted the government to cut its fiscal 2016 tax revenue estimate from its initial plan by 1.74 trillion yen and issue additional government bonds even before the year ends in March.

Securing stable tax revenues is seen as a top priority at a time when Japan’s aging population is expected to increase already ballooning social security expenses in the years ahead.

“Japan’s tax revenues are easily swayed by currency moves just as we saw in fiscal 2016. We need to think about how to reduce such volatility,” said Takuya Hoshino, an economist at the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“For now, the yen has been weakening (since the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president), which could lift tax income. That said, though, the opposite is also true” should the yen strengthen, Hoshino added.

Earlier this year, Abe postponed raising the country’s sales tax to 10%, originally planned for April 2017, to October 2019 as the economy lacked vigor. The hike is aimed at increasing state revenue to pay for social security.

Japan also relies heavily on issuance of government bonds for revenues, making it an urgent task to improve the country’s fiscal health, which is now the worst among major developed countries.

Debt-servicing expenses, accounting for some 24% of next year’s total spending, are expected to drop 0.4%, after the Bank of Japan’s policy to keep the benchmark 10-year bond yield target at around zero enabled the government to lower its assumed interest rate used in compiling the budget.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said that Japan heeds to implement “a more detailed and credible consolidation plan, including a path of gradual increases in the consumption tax” to sustain confidence in its public finances.

The Paris-based organization added that investment in education and training is required to boost the country’s growth potential.

Ahead of Thursday’s cabinet approval, lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party praised the budget plan as “balanced,” saying money is allocated adequately to boost the economy.

The Japanese economy grew an annualized real 1.3% in the July-September period. Domestic demand remains weak despite efforts by the government and the BOJ to jolt it out of prolonged deflation.

Under the fiscal 2017 budget, the government is seeking to encourage more workers to enter sectors suffering from labor shortages such as nursing care. It also aims to set the stage for industrial innovation as the networking of everything from home appliances to cars and factories progresses.

“It’s obvious that spending on growth areas gets cut when social security costs continue to increase,” said Yasuhide Yajima, chief economist at the NLI Research Institute.

“In terms of limiting annual growth in social security costs and reducing issuance of government bonds, you may say the goals have been achieved,” Yajima said. “But what we need to do is to invest in people.”

By fiscal 2020, the government aims to turn Japan’s deficit in the primary balance into a surplus and achieve 600 trillion yen in nominal GDP under the Abenomics program. For now, however, some economists said neither of the targets appears to be within reach.

Hoshino of the Dai-ichi Research Institute sees a growing trend toward adding fiscal stimulus as the global economy is experiencing low growth.

“When it comes to fiscal spending, it’s often the case that an extra budget is compiled for short-term purposes. But a long-term perspective is more important if Japan aims to achieve economic growth and fiscal consolidation,” Hoshino said.

© KYODO

The Islamization of Halifax, Nova Scotia

https://creepingsharia.wordpress.com/2016/12/19/islamization-of-halifax-nova-scotia/

Courtesy of the hijrah. Source: Little mosques on the ocean: Halifax welcomes a growing Muslim population | CFJC Today

[Zia] Khan, who co-founded the mosque [the Centre for Islamic Development] about 17 years ago, has watched that change over the last few decades, and has been part of a demographic shift that is slowly changing the complexion of a largely uniform province to include a richer mix of languages, religions and cultural practices.

The numbers appear to bear that out.

The most recent census in 2011 listed Arabic as the third most commonly spoken language or mother tongue in Nova Scotia — at roughly 6,700 people — and second in Halifax, ahead of Mi’kmaq and Chinese.

Many of the Arabic speakers are part of the province’s Lebanese population, much of which is Christian, but a rising number are from other countries like Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

About 1,500 Syrian refugees also arrived in the province this year, boosting the number of Muslims and Arabic-speaking people in communities that many say are responding to the unique demands of a changing population when it comes to language, food and religion.

Gerry Mills, executive director of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, has overseen the arrival of many of the Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia since late last year, and says there have been visible gestures aimed at accommodating the growing Arabic-speaking population, which peaked in the 1990s as people fled conflict in the Middle East.

“In Halifax, I’m starting to see welcome signs and instruction signs and organizations … doing their pamphlets in Arabic, especially this year when we’ve seen a lot of people at one time speaking one language coming into the province,” she said, adding that some sports facilities, libraries and banks are now posting signs in Arabic.

“If you go into the banks and the grocery stores, you’ll begin to see people who clearly don’t have English as their first language. I don’t think you used to see that 15 years ago, but you do see that now and that’s wonderful.”

Hijabs are no longer an uncommon sight in the city’s core. And most Nova Scotians are learning to see immigrants as a solution to the aging province’s demographic crisis.

When Khan arrived there was one mosque in Halifax. Now, there are at least five, along with several halal grocery stores, markets and restaurants.

The rise in the number of people who speak Arabic in the city attracted the attention of Montreal-based radio station, Radio Middle East, an all-Arabic channel which began broadcasting remotely in Halifax in April, with plans to open offices this spring.

“Not everyone has encountered an Arab or Muslim, especially in Nova Scotia, and some people may not have ever had a friend who wasn’t white.”


The subtle bashing of white, Canadian, non-Muslims is ironic coming from Muslims who think Islam is a race. Many in Halifax probably wish they never had encountered Muslims. Like some of these folks: