Japans prime minister delays sales tax hike to 2017 calls snap election

TOKYO – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a snap election for December and put off a sales tax hike planned for next year, seeking a renewed mandate for his all-or-nothing policies to end two decades of economic stagnation.Despite those policies, the Japanese economy slipped into a recession last quarter after a sales tax increase in April crushed consumer and business spending. That forced Abe to delay the second hike planned for October next year until April 2017.Abe said Tuesday he will dissolve parliament on Friday. He wants an election as soon as possible, which would be mid-December, to seek public approval for his tax decision and for his overall “Abenomics” policies of extreme monetary easing, heavy government spending and economic reforms. The government and the Bank of Japan have pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy in the two years since Abe was elected.“I realize this election will be tough, but I need to hear the voice of the people,” Abe told a news conference. “I will step down if we fail to keep our majority because that would mean our Abenomics is rejected.”The delay in raising the sales tax to 10 per cent from the current 8 per cent will slow Japan’s work on repairing its tattered public finances. But Abe said the risk to the world’s third-largest economy was a bigger threat.Fresh elections may seem a puzzling decision given Abe is only half way through his term and the latest economic news is dismal. However Abe’s ruling Liberal Democrats have a solid majority and hope to further consolidate their power at a time when opposition parties are weak and in disarray.Abe described his strategies as the “only path” for Japan to escape its economic malaise.“Some people say Abenomics has failed or it’s not performing well,” he said. “But then what should we be doing?”Japan has bubbled with speculation of an early election since early this month.The Liberal Democrats have been coaching freshman lawmakers on campaign strategies and opposition parties have rushed to discuss possible new alliances, as campaign posters went up in Tokyo neighbourhoods.Abe got a rare second term as prime minister after stepping down just a year into his rocky first term in office in 2006-2007. His support ratings started out high as share prices surged in early 2013. But they have fallen recently. Parliament got bogged down in squabbles over campaign finance scandals that led to resignations of two of his cabinet ministers within weeks of an early September reshuffle.By dissolving parliament for an election Abe can clear the slate and once again reshuffle his cabinet, said Michael Cucek, a Tokyo-based analyst and fellow at Temple University Japan.Abe pointed to progress in terms of an improved job market and modest increases in wages for some workers.“We’ve kept moving ahead. We must not stop now,” he said.Opposition party leaders, already resigned to Abe’s plan, said they could not oppose the delay in the sales tax increase, given the feeble state of the economy.At over a quadrillion yen ($8.6 trillion), Japan’s public debt is the biggest among developed nations and over twice the size of the economy. But since most of the debt is held by the Bank of Japan and other Japanese financial institutions, it is considered relatively stable.Abe promised the tax increase, which is now slated for 2017, would not be delayed again.Still, just after Abe’s announcement, Fitch Ratings said it would review its assessment of Japan’s debt, dubbing the change of plans a “significant development.”Japanese media had reported that Abe was planning new stimulus measures, but he offered no new specific plans Tuesday.The decision to push ahead with April’s increase in the sales tax to 8 per cent from 5 per cent, has been judged a miscalculation by some of Abe’s advisers, including Koichi Hamada, a former Yale University economics professor who helped draft Abe’s policies and who had lobbied for more gradual increases.“It looks like the Japanese economy was hit by some body blow,” said Hamada.“The level of the consumption tax is not so high, but the increase was rather drastic. It really counteracted Abenomics.”Eventually, Japan must boost taxes to cover rising costs for health and elder care in this aging society.“The Japanese government is doing a kind of Ponzi game,” Hamada said. “Usually a Ponzi scheme doesn’t work in the private economy, but the government always has the next generation of taxpayers to rely on,” he said.___Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed.Elaine Kurtenbach on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ekurtenbach by Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press Posted Nov 18, 2014 3:39 am MDT Japan’s prime minister delays sales tax hike to 2017, calls snap election AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

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SEHA GSS BEST 7 in October

SEHA GAZPROM South Stream League has announced the “BEST 7” for October 2014:GoalkeeperArpad Šterbik (Vardar)He has during last few weeks managed to catch his form and now he is one of Vardar’s key players. Great perfomances in Champions League were followed by amazing 15 saves against Tatran.Left wingerTimur Dibirov (Vardar)When his team needs him most Timur Dibirov shows why he was last season’s League’s MVP. Amazing 10 goals from 11 attempts against Tatran bringing Vardar right next to Veszprem on League’s table.Right wingerMaksim Baranou (Meshkov)Meshkov’s winger was the main reason that the biggest sensation of the season did not happen with Belarus champions hosting Radnički. His 6 goals were extremely important for 3 new points which might, in such a strong League, be decisive in the end.PivotAndreas Nilsson (Veszprem)Outstanding match for Swedish national team player in a derby against PPD Zagreb. Absoultely unstoppable with 9 goals and 100% scoring ratio. Great form in October.Left backSergo Datukashvili (Vojvodina)Vojvodina’s best player is, due to injury, not able to play each match in the season, but when he is in coach’s roster Vojvodina is a serious problem for anyone. Outstanding with 6 goals in a draw against NEXE, 3 goals in Skopje against Metalurg in Vojvodina’s narrow defeat.Middle backLuka Cindrić (Metalurg)One of Metalurg’s best players so far this season with 9 goals in a tough home match against Vojvodina. Young Croatian national team player has also managed to score 4 in a duel versus Borac.Right backDainis Kristopans (Tatran)SEHA GSS League’s No.1 scorer from the last season was once again unstoppable for Vardar and NEXE. He has, with 8 goals in each of those matches announced that he will be one of top favorites for the top-scorer crown this season as well.CoachRaul Gonzales (Vardar)Spaniard has managed to ‘connect some dots’ in Vardar and it is obvious that they are slowly growing proving themselves as Veszprem’s strongest opponents for League’s crown this season. Team from Skopje has with victories against Tatran and Radnički, but also with one match less played, managed to catch Veszprem on League’s top. ← Previous Story HC Metalurg: “Lino Cervar has our full support” Next Story → Chambery appoint Ivica Obrvan for new head-coach! seha gss read more

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