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Gas prices drop Y25 as special taxes end

Date Posted: 2008-04-04

Special gasoline and road taxes expired Monday, leaving Okinawans with a bittersweet set of financial circumstances.

Drivers reap the benefits of the end to taxes, with gasoline prices now Y25 per liter less than before. At the same time, Okinawa officials explain the downside, which is a loss of ¥900 billion in tax revenues this budget year.

The Prefecture has been planning for the end to the special taxes, which have been operating for decades as a temporary tax, but still says it will be problematic. There’s no making up for the lost revenues, so officials say the government will have to “reallocate other tax revenues better”, which means curtailment of other services and programs.

Across Japan, the special taxes expiration means a revenue loss of ¥1.7 trillion, leaving every prefecture with the financial dilemma on how to get close to a balanced budget.
Okinawa citizens fare better than mainland counterparts, who now have gasoline ¥19.5 per liter less, because of special legislation enacted when the Okinawa Reversion occurred in 1972. Still, Hirohisa Fujii, a House of Representatives and Democratic Party of Japan Special Advisor, says Okinawa’s special measures “should make Okinawa prices go down more than ¥25. That is normal to think.”

The Democratic Party of Japan contends it knows “how to make revenue adjustments to the prefectures,” saying the changes should “not come from gasoline taxes, but rather, cutting money used for unproductive investments and entitlements.” Such change, says the party, would reduce taxes.

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