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Diet reinstates provisional gas tax

Date Posted: 2008-05-01

Motorists who didn’t think to fuel up their vehicles Wednesday are finding today the cost of gasoline has jumped back up.
A provisional fuel tax abolished March 31st was reinstated in an unpopular move made by the Liberal Democratic Party and its New Komeito partner Wednesday. On average, gasoline today is ¥25 per liter higher. The bill passed by the Diet reinstates the gasoline tax for 10 years.
Still to come for motorists, another round of price hikes triggered by rising crude oil costs. Oil companies are expected to pass on their higher costs in the form of price hikes that jack the price to ¥160 per liter. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has defended the Diet decision, telling reporters he knows “many people are against raising prices amid the rise in prices of other daily products.”
Fukuda explained, though, that national and local government revenues fell ¥180 billion during the single month the tax was abolished, freezing some 5,000 road construction projects across the nation. The Lower House had approved the new tax bill long before the old one expired, but the opposition-led Upper House refused to cooperate in passing it. The bill became law after an override vote.
The Liberal Democratic Party is taking heat from consumers over the tax reinstatement, but opposition politicians aren’t getting away free, either. “I think the fault lies with both the LDP and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan,” says an anonymous oil company official. “In the end, politicians did nothing until the last minute,” he said.

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