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Gyeonggi governor suggests 2nd coronavirus relief payouts

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung officially asked the central government to draw an extra budget to pay all Koreans 200,000 won ($163) as a second disaster relief to help them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lee’s suggestion runs counter to the Finance Ministry’s position against additional disaster relief grants.

The provincial government of Gyeonggi said on Tuesday that it made the official proposal last Friday based on Lee’s decision to include the 10.37 trillion won needed to give every Korean 200,000 won in the central government’s third supplementary budget plan.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on Monday that the government is not considering a second round of emergency disaster relief grants.

“As the person in charge of financial affairs, I am not considering another disaster relief grant at all,” he said in response to a question during a press briefing on economic policy for the second half of this year.

As the population of Korea stands at 51.84 million, Lee’s proposal calls for a budget of nearly 10.37 trillion won including 2.66 trillion won for Gyeonggi Province.

The government began paying out funds totaling 14.3 trillion won to all households -- 1 million won for each household with four or more persons -- early last month as COVID-19 relief.

Lee has insisted that basic income for disaster relief should be at least twice more as the economic fallout will last long even if the pandemic ends.

“The most efficient way to let the economy run smoothly is by supplementing demand rather than supply. Providing basic income for disaster relief two or three times would be much more helpful,” Lee said.

The provincial government claimed that the regional economy has picked up after it handed out 100,000 won per person in April.

It pointed to a survey by Korea Credit Data which showed that self-employed people in the province saw their revenue from credit card payments in the third week of May rise compared to a year ago.

By Kim So-hyun (