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Ruling bloc wants larger supplementary budget

Cheong Wa Dae, government and ruling Democratic Party officials hold a meeting on COVID-19 response on Wednesday. Yonhap
Cheong Wa Dae, government and ruling Democratic Party officials hold a meeting on COVID-19 response on Wednesday. Yonhap

Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party will look into increasing the supplementary budget that was recently drawn up in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the ruling Democratic Party, plans to increase the supplementary budget and launch new support programs were discussed at Wednesday’s meeting among high-level officials from the presidential office, the ruling party and the government.

The supplementary budget put to the National Assembly’s review is about 11.7 trillion won ($9.8 billion), but many in the business community have said this is not enough. Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Park Yong-maan has said 40 trillion won would be needed to offset the economic effects of the outbreak.

“It looks likely that increasing of the supplementary budget, and support projects will see new additions or modifications,” Lee Nak-yon, the head of the party’s COVID-19 response committee, said.

“I urged the government (to introduce) more support for merchants for Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province and other areas, and for special measures to ease financial difficulties of transport, aviation travel industries, and education, culture service sector, and the government said that measures will be announced within next week.”

The government said the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund and the Korea Technology Finance Corporation could begin providing assistance to SMEs and small merchants as early as next week, Lee added.

Lee said the party planned to push for additions to the supplementary budget, reflecting much of the costs arising from these additional measures, and hoped to get the budget plans through the National Assembly by early next week.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the government also agreed to review plans to cut taxes on protective masks and to secure sufficient supplies of protective equipment for medical workers.

The party and the government also agreed that basic income would not be included in the supplementary budget, Lee revealed.

With the outbreak slowing the economy, South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo and other ruling bloc politicians have suggested providing a basic income of as much as 1 million won to all citizens.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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