Putting economy first, Suga hesitant to rein in Go To Travel program

Putting economy first, Suga hesitant to rein in Go To Travel program

With the COVID-19 pandemic having challenged leaders worldwide to strike a balance between public health and the economy, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga seems to hold the view that any cure involving a loss of economic momentum would be worse than the disease itself.

Apparently leaning further into the position than his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister has resisted completely dialing back the Go To programs he helped engineer, keen to champion economic recovery.

While insisting that citizens maintain rigorous personal hygiene practices, Suga has refrained from making recommendations on traveling or eating at restaurants — the two key pillars of the Go To stimulus programs.

“The government’s role is to protect the lives and the livelihoods of the people,” Suga stated during a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee on Nov. 25. “The government is doing everything it can to protect jobs and keep businesses alive amid the pandemic.”

His hesitancy to shift emphasis away from the stimulus program, aimed at invigorating consumption, illustrates the contrast between decision-making under his fledgling administration and that of his predecessor.