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Naha Assembly members upset over travel budget cuts

Date Posted: 2004-03-04

A cut in authorized allowances for government employees’ families to travel overseas has generated some angry response. Members of the Naha City Assembly have raised a hue and cry over the decision by Naha City General Affairs Section Chief Shin Matsumoto to cut allowances for assembly members’ spouses overseas travel expenses.

Naha City has had a Y6 million annual budget to cover overseas travel expenses for the assembly members as they visit Naha’s sister cities and other destinations overseas. Traditionally the city has also covered the assembly members’ spouses’ expenses.

That is about to change if Matsumoto gets his way. “As Naha City budget is steeply in red, it would be very difficult to get city residents to agree to this kind of largesse. Instead, if the spouses want to go, they should pay for their own way,” Matsumoto reasons.

The General Affairs Section’s decision to suspend the budget for spouses did not go down well with many assembly members. “Of course spouses have to accompany us on these trips. They help us very much in cultural and friendship exchanges overseas, and that’s why the city should pay for their travel too,” one assembly member who requested anonymity said. Up to now, the city budget has reserved a total of Y470,000 per year for the spouses’ travel expenses.

The suspension of the allowance resulted in a four-hour heated argument in the latest Naha assembly general meeting on Monday, but in the end Matsumoto stood his ground. “We must keep the suspension in effect. If things change later we can discuss the matter again,” Matsumoto said.

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