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Japan Inc resilient in face of sales tax rise: Reuters poll

By James Topham TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese companies have weathered the first days of a rise in the country's consumption tax, with sales resilient and pricing power little damaged, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, in an early sign the tax hike will not derail the economy. This good news for "Abenomics" bolsters the Bank of Japan's view that it does not need to ease policy further to cushion the impact from the tax, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government raised on April 1 to help curb the nation's mountain of public debt.

Gov't to report downward swing in economy after sales tax hike

The government is likely to state in its monthly economic report for April that the economy has turned downward due to the impact of the sales tax increase on April 1, sources close to the matter said Tuesday. The assessment in the report, which will be submitted to a meeting of Cabinet ministers on Thursday, reflects a fall in demand in goods, such as electronics, after the March 31 end of last-minute buying ahead of the tax hike, and subsequent moves among some companies to curb production.

With Congress unable to decide how to pay for transportation aid, highway projects may suffer

DAYTON, Ohio - On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: the government's Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke. If allowed to run dry, that could set back or shut down projects across the country, force widespread layoffs of construction workers and delay needed repairs and improvements.

France chops red tape to save firms billions of euros

By Emmanuel Jarry PARIS (Reuters) - A panel created by President Francois Hollande to cut red tape for French business announced 50 measures on Monday aimed at saving billions of euros a year, as his government seeks to revive a struggling economy. The measures will untangle a thicket of rules - including, for example, a requirement that bakers inform local police of their holiday plans - which are seen as preventing small and big business from flourishing in France.

New documents show Manitoba government analyzed even higher sales tax increase

WINNIPEG - The Canadian Press has learned that the Manitoba government analyzed a higher sales tax increase than the one it brought in last year — a revelation that contradicts what the finance minister told the news agency last fall. A report by the provincial ombudsman's office shows that the Finance Department prepared two documents that analyzed revenue options that included a nine per cent retail sales tax before settling on eight per cent — an increase of one percentage point.

Finance Minister Oliver pledges tax relief for families once budget balanced

TORONTO - The federal government will move to provide tax relief for families after balancing the budget next year, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said Monday in his first speech to a Bay Street audience since taking over the post last month. "We believe Canadian families still pay too much in tax," Oliver told the business audience in Toronto. "Once the budget is balanced, our priority will be to provide tax relief to hard-working Canadian families." Tax cuts in the 2015 budget would come ahead of an expected election next year.

Green bonds to fund transit could be tax-free solution to election problem

TORONTO - With the prospect of an election growing more likely every day, the minority Liberals' spring budget may turn out to be more campaign platform than peace treaty. It will also need to lay out a plan to fund a massive expansion of public transit in the vote-rich Greater Toronto and Hamilton area — one of their key promises — without raising taxes for the middle class. Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised that a new "revenue stream" to raise the estimated $2 billion a year that's needed to fund public transit will be unveiled in the budget, expected May 1.

Green bonds to fund transit could be tax-free solution to election problem

TORONTO - With the prospect of an election growing more likely every day, the minority Liberals' spring budget may turn out to be more campaign platform than peace treaty. It will also need to lay out a plan to fund a massive expansion of public transit in the vote-rich Greater Toronto and Hamilton area — one of their key promises — without raising taxes for the middle class. Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised that a new "revenue stream" to raise the estimated $2 billion a year that's needed to fund public transit will be unveiled in the budget, expected May 1.

Abe shops, encourages spending after sales tax hike

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday morning shopped at a Tokyo department store to experience firsthand the effects of a consumption tax hike earlier this week and to encourage spending. Visiting the upscale Nihombashi Mitsukoshi department store, Abe said revenue from Tuesday's consumption tax increase to 8 percent from 5 percent "will be put toward social security." Abe spent a total of 39,955 yen on purchases including books, shoes and some food products.

Slovenian PM to ask for confidence vote

Slovenian centre-left Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek said Friday she will seek a vote of confidence in her coalition government with the outcome largely linked to talks over unpopular austerity measures. "After all we've done, I believe it is right to check whether I still have the confidence of at least 46 MPs (in the 90-seat parliament) for leading the country into a better future," Bratusek told a news conference. She added, the vote should address the readiness of the four-party coalition "to work together for the benefit of Slovenia and its citizens".
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