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‘70% extra budget to be executed before October’: government

The government will execute 70 percent of the supplementary budget approved Saturday before October, in an attempt to maximize its effects and to offset the delay in its approval by the National Assembly.

“It is very important to effectively execute the budget at the right time and place to maximize the influence of the funds,” Vice Minister Kim Yong-jin of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said in an urgent economy inspection meeting held Saturday after the bill was passed.

“We will come up with detailed plans to execute 70 percent of the extra budget before the Chuseok holidays when job openings of private businesses are concentrated.” This year’s Chuseok holiday falls on Oct. 4.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (second from left) speaks before a meeting on the supplementary budget at the National Assembly in Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (second from left) speaks before a meeting on the supplementary budget at the National Assembly in Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap)

After the ruling and opposition parties approved the bill, the government quickly took action, holding a series of meetings presided over by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, who urged for the quick execution of the funds in the second half of this year.

The 11.2 trillion won ($9.8 billion) supplementary budget plan was approved by the parliament 45 days after it was proposed on June 7. The finalized budget is 11.03 trillion won, some 153.7 billion down from the initial proposal.

The budget includes funds to stabilize livelihoods, support the disabled and shore up the ailing shipbuilding industry. It also contains 107 billion won to support drought-hit regions and 45 billion won for preparations for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

With the implementation of the budget, the government expects some 84,000 added jobs from both the public and private sectors.

“There have been many difficulties, but the extra budget bill has been settled. It will be the solution to several economic agendas, such as the youth unemployment problems,” Kim said.

For middle-sized companies, the state promised to provide subsidies and expects it would support some 5,000 unemployed. When a company hires three regular workers, the government will support up to 20 million won for three years.

The ruling and opposition parties previously had locked horns over some key details, including the 8 billion won set aside to hire 12,000 new government employees -- 4,500 for the central government and 7,500 for regional governments -- through the end of the year.

The rival parties strongly opposed the plan, saying it would impose a great burden on future generations, and it could also breach the National Finance Act that stipulates an extra budget can be drawn up only in emergencies such as war, natural disaster, economic recession and massive unemployment.

On Friday, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, centrist minor opposition People’s Party and conservative splinter Bareun Party gathered consent to drop issue over the 8 billion won and use this year’s existing reserve budget to create a reduced number of 2,875 central government jobs.

The figure was finalized at a lower 2,575 later, as the main opposition Liberty Korea Party continued to hold out, calling for the number to be reduced to around 1,000.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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