20 December 2001, 09:33  Shiokawa says 30 trln yen bond limit in yr after next conditional on economy

TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) - Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said the continuation of the 30 trln yen bond issuance limit in the year to March 2004 is conditional on the state of the economy during the period. The ministry earlier announced that the government will issue new financing bonds of 30 trln yen for the year to March 2003, compared with the initial target of 28.3 trln this year. The 30 trln yen in new bonds is in line with a pledge by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to cap new bond issuance at this level to help reduce upward pressure on outstanding Japanese government debt. "We will determine whether to keep the 30 trln yen bond issuance limit (in the year to March 2004) after seeing the economic performance of the economy next fiscal year," Shiokawa told a regular press briefing this morning. "However, we have not basically changed our policy of avoiding unlimited issuance of Japanese government bonds," he said. Shiokawa also said the government should help improve the share price of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp by reducing regulatory restrictions on its operations. "The government should give NTT some comfort by abolishing restraints on the business activity of the company that will help it do business much more freely, leading to an advance in the stock price," he said. "NTT's efforts to reduce its charges will lead to a decline in stock prices due to the imposition of restraints on its activities," he added. China will present new proposals at trade talks with Japan, Shiokawa said. "Japan and China will enter the final stage of negotiations to resolve outstanding issues. I know that China is ready to present a new proposal to bring forward the resolution, though I don't know the contents," he said.

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