Japanese economy sustains growth in the first quarter

Worries have been growing that the momentum for Japan’s economic growth may be slowing. (AP)
Updated 20 May 2019
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Japanese economy sustains growth in the first quarter

  • Seasonally adjusted real gross domestic product grew 0.5 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter
  • Healthy public investment and private residential investment helped boost growth during the quarter

TOKYO: Japan’s economy grew at an annual pace of 2.1 percent in the first quarter, marking the second straight quarter of expansion, according to government data released Monday.
The Cabinet Office said seasonally adjusted real gross domestic product, the total value of a nation’s goods and services, grew 0.5 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter.
Healthy public investment and private residential investment helped boost growth during the quarter, according to the data, which is likely to be revised.
Japan’s economy has recorded moderate growth under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” anti-deflation programs but contracted in some recent periods because of natural disasters and other factors.
The impact from the deepening trade dispute between the US and China also is crimping demand for export-reliant Japan.
Worries have been growing that the momentum for Japan’s economic growth may be slowing.
Harumi Taguchi of IHS Markit in Tokyo said one factor behind the better-than-expected results was that imports slowed as well as exports, which signals slowing internal demand.
“Extra holidays related to the new emperor, the Rugby World Cup and a lift in consumption ahead of an expected sales tax increase are expected to support consumption for some time,” he said.
But he noted that extra government measures may be needed to support spending after the tax takes effect. Japan is set to implement a sales tax increase from 8 percent to 10 percent later this year.


Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Updated 18 June 2019
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Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP
BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)