All residents of Gyeonggi Province, including registered foreigners, will receive 100,000 won ($90.90) in emergency cash payouts to cope with the COVID-19 economic fallout regardless of their income, age or occupation, with the exact timing to be decided soon.
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung said Wednesday at an online press conference that it is appropriate to dole out the second round of cash relief and to do so rapidly, given the devastating economic situation, the slowing coronavirus infection rate and the country’s virus control capacity.
Some 14 million residents of Gyeonggi Province, which encompasses 31 cities and counties surrounding Seoul, are to receive 100,000 won either on credit cards in their names or on local currency cards. The money can only be spent within a three-month period.
An estimated 580,000 foreign nationals who have registered addresses in the province are eligible for the funds.
Foreign nationals were excluded from the province’s first round of cash payouts in April last year, except for those married to Koreans and those holding residency visas. Human rights groups denounced their exclusion as discrimination based on nationality.
The payments, which would cost about 1.4 trillion won from the provincial budget, are expected to be made in February.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s leadership voiced concerns about Lee’s move, saying the cash relief program could undermine the authorities’ antivirus fight.
In response, Lee said the province would decide carefully on the timing of the cash payments in consideration of the virus situation.
“The success of K-quarantine lies in citizens’ proactive cooperation. I am certain that Gyeonggi residents, who have mature civic awareness, will spend the funds while strictly following virus control measures as they have done so far,” Lee said, dismissing claims that the cash relief program could trigger more consumption and lead people to violate social distancing rules.
Lee Nak-yon, head of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, dismissed the direct cash payments as “self-contradictory” on an MBC TV news program Tuesday.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on an MBC radio program Wednesday that the right approach is “selective financial support” for those hit harder by the pandemic.
Gyeonggi Province was the first municipality to offer universal cash payments of 100,000 won to all residents, regardless of their income, age or occupation, in April last year following the first wave of COVID-19 infections.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org