The ruling party on Friday called on the government to conduct an expansionary fiscal policy and stronger restructuring of its expenditures to secure the wherewithal for its key policy tasks, including enhancing public welfare and national security.
During their policy coordination meeting, the Democratic Party also demanded a hefty pay raise for military draftees to deliver on the new administration's pledge to raise the pay to around 50 percent of the 2017 minimum wage -- 6,470 won ($5.66) per hour -- by 2022.
The meeting was held to discuss next year's state budget plans that are subject to intense parliamentary scrutiny during a regular 100-day National Assembly session slated to begin next month.
Senior officials from the ruling Democratic Party and government pose for a photo before their policy consultation meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 18, 2017. (Yonhap)
"(The party) stressed the importance of an active fiscal policy role when economic recovery is not robust," Kim Tae-nyeon, the party's policy chief, told reporters following the two-way meeting.
"So as to respond more actively to undertake priority policy tasks and cope with additional fiscal demands, we underscored the need to employ an expansionary policy and carry out a tougher expenditure restructuring," he added, referring to the 100 tasks estimated to cost some 178 trillion won over the next five years.
At the beginning of the meeting, Kim Dong-yeon, the deputy prime minister for economic affairs who doubles as the finance minister, said the government is striving to secure some 11 trillion won by readjusting its expenditures.
Kim, moreover, stressed that next year's budget will focus on creating jobs, enhancing regular citizens' livelihoods and bolstering Asia's fourth-largest economy's growth potential, while vowing to ensure the state fiscal soundness.
Noting the dire security situation associated with an increasingly provocative North Korea, the party's policy chief renewed calls for an increase in defense spending, which is "higher than the preceding government," and for a "hefty" rise in wages for conscripts. He did not elaborate on how much they should be increased.
The ruling party also asked the government to secure sufficient budget to introduce a child benefit program, increase the basic pension for senior citizens, enhance state responsibility for dementia patients and support small merchants and micro-businesses.
"Though we held the party-government discussion (on the budget plans), they have yet to pass through the Cabinet," the party policy chief said. "Following this meeting, the government will continue to fine-tune details until a Cabinet meeting on them." (Yonhap)