Japan likely to revise proposed budget due to wage-data errors

Labor ministry officials have admitted issuing monthly wage data without meeting sampling standards for years. (AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Japan likely to revise proposed budget due to wage-data errors

  • The data error has caused the ministry to underestimate payments made under Japan’s employment insurance program
  • Labor ministry officials admitted issuing monthly wage data without meeting sampling standards for years

TOKYO: Japan’s government is likely to revise its budget draft for the next fiscal year to pay for a shortfall of employment insurance benefits caused by errors in the country’s wage data, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday.
The likely budget revision — a rare move — would follow the revelation that the labor ministry miscalculated workers’ average wages for years.
The data error has caused the ministry to underestimate payments made under Japan’s employment insurance program, which includes unemployment benefits, and another insurance covering compensation for workplace accidents.
Labor ministry officials admitted on Wednesday that they have issued monthly wage data without meeting sampling standards for years, hurting the credibility of a key gauge of the success of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies.
“Economic indicators provide the basis for decision on fiscal and economic policies and they must always be accurate,” Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting. “It’s very regrettable that the wages data will be recompiled.”
Aso said the wage data flaw has caused the labor ministry to underestimate benefits for employment insurance and workpeople’s accident insurance. As a result, it needs to pay for additional benefits to make up for past shortfalls by adding necessary funds to the budget for the fiscal year to begin April 1.
“It’s highly likely that the budget draft will be revised,” Aso said, adding that the amount of extra spending has not been fixed yet.
In compiling the monthly data, which covers some 33,000 firms with five or more full-time employees, the labor ministry is supposed to collect samples from all the companies that employ 500 or more workers.
But it turned out that the data sampling failed to cover two-thirds of some 1,400 businesses in Tokyo for an unspecified period of time, ministry officials said. Domestic media reported the sampling error extends back for 15 years.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday the government would examine all economic indicators.
The budget draft was compiled in December and was due to be sent to the parliament later this month for approval before April 1.
Abe’s cabinet last month approved a record ¥101.5 trillion ($937.12 billion) annual budget draft, featuring spending to offset the pain of a planned sales tax hike scheduled for October.


UAE hyperloop to finish initial construction in 2020: chairman

Updated 3 min 42 sec ago
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UAE hyperloop to finish initial construction in 2020: chairman

ABU DHABI: The company building the world’s first superfast hyperloop train system in the United Arab Emirates will complete the first phase of its construction next year, a top executive said Thursday.
Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, based in California, plans to build 10 kilometers (six miles) of a 150-kilometer route linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai next year, company chairman Bibop Gresta told the official WAM news agency.
Gresta did not give a specific date for the launch of the high-speed transport system but said estimates put the cost at $3 billion to $6 billion.
Last April, Hyperloop signed a memorandum of understanding with Al-Dar Properties, a major real estate firm based in Abu Dhabi, for the construction and operation of the near-supersonic transport link.
The first capsule of the UAE train has now left the assembly facility in Spain to Toulouse, France where it will be tested on a prototype track, Gresta said.
A hyperloop is a shuttle pod that travels on magnetic rails, somewhat like a train, but which runs in a tube with little or no air.
In theory, hyperloops could allow travel faster than the speed of sound.