August 29, 2013 / 2:01 PM / 4 years ago

Japan budget requests hit a record $1.02 trln for FY2014 -sources

TOKYO, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Japan’s government ministries will make budget requests totalling a record 99.2 trillion yen ($1.02 trillion) for the fiscal year from next April, sources familiar with the figures told Reuters, adding to its already strained public finances.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is struggling to balance the need for economic stimulus and the need to rein in the country’s public debt, which is double the size of its GDP - the heaviest such burden among the industrialised nations.

The budget requests, which must all be submitted by Friday, compare with 92.6 trillion yen earmarked for this fiscal year.

The Ministry of Finance in recent years has typically trimmed the requested total by several trillion yen when it prepares its draft budget in December.

The process is complicated this year, however, as no ceiling has been set for the budget draft due to a pending sales tax increase, while Abe’s government faces pressure for more spending to stimulate the economy.

The requested amount was pushed up by debt-servicing costs and bulging social welfare spending due to an ageing society. Ministries additionally requested 3.5 trillion yen for a special allocation aimed at promoting growth industries.

The Ministry of Finance, charged with drafting the state budget and issuing government bonds, is requesting a record 25.3 trillion yen in debt-servicing costs under the budget.

Ministries are also requesting about 74 trillion yen in other spending, the sources told Reuters.

The requests come weeks after the government set budget guidelines but did not set its usual ceiling to cap spending, given uncertainty over tax revenue pending a decision due by October over whether to raise the sales tax next April.

Abe is expected to make a final decision on the planned sales tax hike after scrutinising economic figures and determining whether the economy is strong enough to withstand the negative impact.

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