News Article

Japan’s first week tax-related reward points total ¥6 billion

The Ministry of Industry said Friday that in the first week through Monday, the total amount of reward points associated with a recent tax rise, given through a government-funded program reached some ¥6 billion.

The program will continue until the end of June next year, aimed at offsetting the economic hit from the consumption tax hike from 8% to 10% at the beginning of the month.

Consumers who buy goods and services in supermarkets and other establishments using cashless payment systems are compensated with points worth up to 5 per cent of the purchase amount. The next time those customers make a cashless transaction, one point can be used as one yen.

The Ministry of Industry said the project had “a steady start,” with as of Friday the number of shops and others taking part in the initiative exceeding around 520,000. The number only represents only a fifth of the sum of about 2 million stores eligible to participate in the program.

The government, which subsidises stores to compensate for the revenue lost by awarding the points, estimates the number of funds to cover the subsidies at approximately 180 billion yen under its fiscal 2019 budget, which ends next March.

But a senior official in the ministry said points are being awarded “at a faster pace than expected under the budget,” indicating the ministry will have talks with the department of finance on an extra expenditure in the case of a funding shortage.

The Ministry of Industry also said it had fixed on the official website of the program about 90 per cent of the approximately 200,000 errors in information about participating stores. Next week, the department will fix the remaining errors, it said.

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