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Japan readies $18bn in stimulus ahead of 2019 tax hike

Government spending faces record amid efforts to boost consumption

A shopper browses merchandise at a discount store in Tokyo. Japan plans consumer incentives to ease a likely slowdown when the consumption tax rises to 10% in October 2019.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Shopping incentives and infrastructure projects make up the bulk of a 2 trillion yen ($17.7 billion) stimulus package being considered as part of Japan's fiscal 2019 budget, designed to ease the blow from plans to raise the country's consumption tax rate to 10% in October.

Such stimulus appears likely to include a "premium gift card" program to provide shoppers with vouchers offering extra value, at a cost of over 150 billion yen. Another few hundred billion could go toward a 5% cashback program for consumers using cashless payments at small and midsize merchants. The Finance Ministry and related agencies are hammering out the details of the various programs.

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