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W14tr extra budget bill moves closer to passage


The National Assembly moved closer on Tuesday to a final vote on the second extra budget bill, which would provide 14 trillion won to help the country deal with COVID-19, including 4.6 trillion more for coronavirus relief for households.

Several parliamentary subcommittees conducted legislative reviews of the government’s plan, with Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki in attendance.

Rival parties earlier agreed to vote on the bill at a plenary session scheduled Wednesday morning, given the urgency of the stimulus measures as the coronavirus pandemic hurts consumption and jobs.

During a subcomittee meeting Tuesday, the finance minister said issuing bonds would be inevitable to cover the cost of providing universal emergency disaster relief. The country initially planned to offer the money only to households in the bottom 70 percent income bracket.

“The government will actively cooperate if ways to reduce the size of bond issuance by readjusting budget spending can be found during the discussion,” he said.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the disaster relief funds would be given to vulnerable groups of people first and the rest would receive their share by May 15 if the bill passed.

The government submitted a 14.3 trillion won supplementary budget bill to the National Assembly on April 16, following the approval in March of an 11.7 trillion won extra budget proposal to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 244 people here.

With the combined amount, 26 trillion won, marking the most aggressive spending plan since 2009, when the country was hit by the global financial crisis, the Finance Ministry plans to submit a third extra budget proposal in early June to stabilize employment and enterprises.

More intensive and broader efforts to reallocate government funds will be carried out for the third supplementary budget, the prime minister told lawmakers.

By Park Han-na (