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Japan gov't ready to spend $2.85 bil. to find contractor for tourism discount plan

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is seen in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Feb. 2, 2019, in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government has set a cap of 309.5 billion yen (about $2.85 billion) for spending on selecting a contractor for its scheme to reignite demand for activities including travel and eating out, it has emerged.

The "Go To Campaign" project is planned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to encourage spending on leisure and other activities. But the funds set aside to prepare the scheme have come in for criticism from opposition parties, who say the use of such large amounts of taxpayers' money are a waste, and that they intend to pursue the government over the matter.

In the first supplementary budget approved at the end of April, the campaign was allocated 1.7 trillion yen (about $15.68 billion). It aims to support eateries and tourist areas through issuing coupons and discounts for use on domestic travel and with restaurants and other businesses.

The sought-after contractor would take on a full command role over the campaign so that it can be run in a unified fashion. Firms can apply through June 8, and one company will be chosen based on the decision of a panel of experts.

According to an individual connected to the recruitment, the expenses include money for the creation of a system to provide travel agencies and other businesses with payments for them to distribute the coupons to consumers, and the management of a call center to respond to queries from coupon users. A senior official at the trade ministry said, "The commissioning costs cover an essential amount for ensuring the project proceeds."

(Japanese original by Akihisa Kudo, Business News Department)

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