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Moon says 2021 budget will lay grounds for ‘leading economy’

President Moon Jae-in looks at protesting opposition lawmakers during his parliamentary address on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in looks at protesting opposition lawmakers during his parliamentary address on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday pledged to focus on economic recovery, and to forge ahead with the Korean New Deal in order to reinvent Korea as a “leading economy.”

“The 2021 budget bill the government is submitting is a budget for ‘overcoming the era of crisis to rise as a leading nation,’” Moon said.

“The priority is given to quickly overcoming the crisis to support people’s livelihoods, and to achieve rapid and strong economic recovery. In addition, the focus is on executing the Korean New Deal in order to bring about the transformation from a following economy into a leading economy.”

Next year’s budget bill asks for 555.8 trillion won ($492.3 billion), up 8.5 percent from this year. According to Moon, however, next year’s figure is a 0.2 percent increase from this year when including the supplementary budgets drawn to combat COVID-19’s economic impact.

Stressing that economic recovery is the top priority, Moon went on to say that the starting point is job creation. Moon said that the government aims to protect 460,000 jobs, and create 570,000 new jobs through subsidies, and to directly create 1.03 million jobs for seniors, the disabled and other groups with difficulty in finding employment.

Urging the private sector to work with the government in creating jobs, Moon went on to list measures for boosting domestic spending and exports.

Saying that consumption, investment and exports are key to revitalizing the economy, Moon said that the government will increase support for small merchants and the domestic tourism industry, and pledged more support for industries.

Moon said that the government will inject 72.9 trillion won worth of policy funds to facilitate investment, and to double the support given to Korean firms returning their production bases back to Korea and to attract foreign companies.

In the speech, Moon also pledged to strengthen the drive behind the Korean New Deal, saying that the 160 trillion won program will lay the foundations for the country’s future.

According to Moon, 32.5 trillion won, which includes 21.3 trillion won of government funds, will be injected into related projects in 2021 and create 360,000 jobs.

Korean New Deal projects with heavy investment marked for next year include those in the “Digital New Deal” category and “Green New Deal” category. The Digital New Deal category concerns IT-related projects that will see 7.9 trillion won investment in the coming year. Green New Deal projects, into which 8 trillion won will be injected in 2021, include replacing coal power with renewable sources and hydrogen vehicles.

Moon also dedicated a significant part of the speech to outlining plans for strengthening social security.

“Next year, 46.9 trillion won will be injected to further strengthen the four social security nets of livelihood, medical, housing and education,” Moon said.

Planned measures include easing regulations to allow more people to receive government subsidies, increasing senior pension, and supplying 190,000 public housing, going on to stress the administration’s drive to curb real estate speculation.

“Special effort will be made to provide housing security. The government’s commitment to stabilizing the real estate market, protecting residents and suppressing speculation,” Moon said.

By Choi He-suk (