This photo, taken July 29, 2021, shows a nearly empty street in Seoul's shopping district of Myeongdong in central Seoul amid the pandemic. (Yonhap)
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Thursday the government will discuss with local banks whether to further roll over the debt and interest payments of small merchants hit hard by the pandemic.
Since April last year, the government has encouraged local banks to extend loan maturity and hold off interest payments for micro business owners to help them cope with the fallout of the pandemic. The measures, which have been extended by six months twice, are set to expire at end-September.
"The government will decide whether to extend such financial support in September," Hong told a meeting on emergency economic situations.
The minister added the country will soon announce measures to delay the second-half payment of taxes and social insurance fees for pandemic-stricken merchants to ease their financial burdens.
The government earlier said it plans to provide more than 90 percent of its pandemic relief funds under the latest extra budget to small merchants and people in the bottom 88 percent income bracket by the end of next month.
Meanwhile, Hong said that economic recovery momentum somewhat slowed due to the fallout of the fourth wave of the pandemic.
The finance ministry said in its latest economic assessment report that the flare-up in virus cases is expected to heighten uncertainty over the recovery of domestic demand.
The country is grappling with the latest spike in COVID-19 cases, as its daily new infections have topped 1,000 for 29 straight days. The nation added 1,725 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, raising the total to 203,926. (Yonhap)