Parliament scheduled to vote on bills on extra budget, online rigging scandal

By Yonhap
  • Published : May 18, 2018 - 11:40
  • Updated : May 18, 2018 - 11:40

The National Assembly is scheduled to vote on proposals for a 3.9 trillion won ($3.6 billion) extra budget and a special counsel probe into an online opinion rigging scandal on Friday.

Ending a 40-day parliamentary stalemate, rival parties agreed on Monday to proceed with the controversial bills -- one for the supplementary budget aimed at creating jobs for young people and one on an independent inquiry into the Internet comments manipulation case involving a former ruling party lawmaker -- at a plenary session slated for later in the day.

However, it is uncertain whether parliament will be able to approve those proposals as scheduled because ruling and opposition parties have failed to narrow the gap between their stances on the hot-button issues.

The National Assembly (Yonhap)

The government and the ruling Democratic Party are hoping that the budget bill will be passed, saying it will boost the sluggish job market. But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party seeks to cut it by some 1.5 trillion won, claiming that the proposal contains spending that does not appear to be linked to job creation.

In March, the government proposed the extra budget largely to create new jobs for young people amid a sluggish job market.

The number of newly added jobs stayed slightly above the 100,000 mark for the third straight month in April, the worst record since the 2008 global financial crisis, according to government data.

If approved, the proposed extra budget will be the second of its kind under the incumbent liberal administration. Last year, the National Assembly approved an 11 trillion won supplementary budget.

Lawmakers are also bickering over the scope of the independent counsel investigation into the online comment manipulation scandal that is allegedly linked to a former ruling party lawmaker.

The scandal has become a sensitive political issue following revelations that Kim Kyoung-soo, a former DP lawmaker who has close ties with President Moon Jae-in, knew and communicated with a power blogger, nicknamed Druking, at the center of the online rigging case.

A local newspaper carried a letter sent by the now-jailed Druking in its Friday edition in which the blogger claimed that the ex-lawmaker tacitly agreed to his campaign for the online opinion rigging.

Kim, who is running for governor of South Gyeongsang Province, flatly denied the allegations, dismissing the letter as a "novel."

Partisan wrangling has deepened after a minor opposition party demanded a special investigation be expanded to include President Moon Jae-in and the ruling party, citing Druking's suspected online comment rigging linked to last year's presidential election.

The LKP and other opposition parties are demanding that the probe be conducted in a similar manner and scope to a 2016 special counsel investigation into a corruption scandal involving then-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante. But the DP has called for the probe to be on a smaller scale. (Yonhap)