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Busan announces separate economic relief package for city

Haeundae Beach in Busan is nearly deserted before Christmas last year. (Yonhap)
Haeundae Beach in Busan is nearly deserted before Christmas last year. (Yonhap)
The Busan Metropolitan Government will provide economic relief for industries in the city that have been affected by the social distancing measures that were extended due to the third wave of COVID-19. Beneficiaries will include artists, the transportation industry and the tourism industry.

Busan’s acting Mayor Byun Seong-wan said 154,000 businesses and individuals would receive a combined 220 billion won ($208 million) from city, district and county resources.

This is separate from the central government’s third batch of relief, amounting to 9.3 trillion won, with direct cash payments starting Jan. 11.

The Busan Metropolitan Government will first provide 1 million won each to some 110,000 businesses whose activities have been restricted such as bars, indoor sports facilities including gyms, and “noraebang,” or karaoke establishments.

Some 86,000 businesses that had to discontinue dining-in services, such as restaurants and cafes, will receive 500,000 won each.

The transportation industry is also eligible for support after seeing a sharp decrease in passenger numbers.

The city has announced that it will provide 1 million won each to 1,600 chartered bus drivers who were not included in earlier government relief programs, and a total of 2.5 billion won to 54 village bus companies. Corporate taxi drivers will get a total of 4.5 billion in subsidies, with each driver receiving 500,000 won.

Some 2,400 local tourism companies and 2,600 local artists will also get emergency funds to stabilize business management and support their livelihoods.

To assist small-business operators, the city will spend 130 billion won.

In addition, the city will exempt “good landlords” -- those who voluntarily reduce rent to ease the burden on tenants -- from paying property tax.

The Busan Metropolitan Government said the city had extended a 50 percent property tax cut to good landlords last year, but was offering full exemption this year in the hope of persuading some 3,000 landlords to cut rent.

“The impact of COVID-19 struck hard in Busan, a city which relies heavily on economy-sensitive industries, such as small-business owners, merchants and self-employed people. The impact is bound to be greater than in other cities,” acting Mayor Byun said at a briefing Thursday. “We will focus on preparing support measures without any blind spots left in the city.”

The Busan Metropolitan Government plans to distribute all the relief payments before the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls Feb. 12.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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