|Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (third from left) speaks during the high-level meeting among government, ruling paryt and presidential office on Monday. Yonhap|
Officials who attended a high-level meeting between Cheong Wa Dae, the ruling Democratic Party and the government said discussions on the supplementary budget must begin early this week if it is to be implement next month.
The 6.7 trillion won ($5.6 billion) supplementary budget bill has been held up at the National Assembly for nearly 50 days, with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party boycotting the parliamentary process.
At the meeting, Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Lee Hae-chan criticized Hwang Kyo-ahn, chairman of the Liberty Korea Party, accusing him of aggravating the standoff.
“It is unclear on what pretext (Hwang) holds rallies when he prevented a meeting with President Moon Jae-in, (and) absents himself from the monthly meeting,” Lee Hae-chan said.
“(I) implore (Hwang) to change his mind and return to the workplace.”
The Democratic Party leader was referring to a proposed meeting between Moon and the leaders of the five political parties, and a monthly meeting of the parties’ leaders and the National Assembly speaker.
Last week, Cheong Wa Dae had suggested holding a meeting between Moon and the five parties’ leaders, followed by a one-on-one meeting between Moon and Hwang. Although Cheong Wa Dae had hoped to appease Hwang -- who called for a one-on-one meeting with Moon last month -- the main opposition had rejected the offer, saying that two non-negotiation group parties should be excluded from the meeting.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon also raised concerns over the developments in the political arena, indirectly criticizing the main opposition.
“I don’t know whether there is a country other than Korea where whether to open or not to open the parliament is treated as the most important political agenda,” Lee Nak-yon said.
He went on to criticize the opposition’s actions, questioning its motivations for boycotting the parliament when a critical supplementary budget hangs in the balance.
According to Democratic Party spokesperson Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo, the officials also discussed a number of bills on economic and labor issues.
The bills include those regarding regulations on the use of data, corporate activities and balanced regional development, as well as those on labor standards and the minimum wage.
Hong also accused the Liberty Korea Party of spreading “fake news” that the supplementary budget does not include funding for areas hit by natural disasters, saying the Democratic Party is open to directing more funds to such areas if this is deemed necessary during discussions.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)