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Relief cash handouts eyed in late Aug. but may be delayed

This image shows the government's plan to provide targeted support to small merchants hit hard by the pandemic and stimulus checks to citizens. (Yonhap)
This image shows the government's plan to provide targeted support to small merchants hit hard by the pandemic and stimulus checks to citizens. (Yonhap)
South Korea said Monday it seeks to provide pandemic emergency funds to most of its citizens next month, but the timing could be flexible depending on the virus situation.

The government plans to provide stimulus checks of 11 trillion won ($9.5 billion) to people in the bottom 80 percent income bracket and double-income and one-person households, as the National Assembly approved an extra budget of 34.9 trillion won last week.

Parliament endorsed the extra budget larger than the government's proposed budget of 33 trillion won, as the country needs more spending to tackle the economic impact of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

The government said about 20.3 million households are expected to receive cash handouts, which translate into 250,000 won per person.

The finance ministry said the government will be able to provide stimulus checks in late August but they may be pushed back depending on the virus situation.

South Korea is grappling with another wave of the pandemic as its new daily COVID-19 cases topped 1,000 for the 20th straight day. The country added 1,318 virus cases Monday, raising the total to 190,166.

Of the extra budget, the country will earmark 5.3 trillion won to support small merchants ravaged by antivirus business restrictions.

The government plans to offer support to merchants and the self-employed starting Aug. 17. Depending on the economic damage, recipients can get up to 20 million won in support.

The country will also begin to compensate merchants for their losses incurred by state orders on business restrictions over COVID-19 in late October.

Meanwhile, the government said it will run the cash-back reward scheme for card spending for two months, shorter than the three months it earlier planned. It has yet to decide when to start the program, citing the virus situation.

The ministry initially set aside 1.1 trillion won to provide cash back rewards to boost domestic demand. But during a parliamentary review, the budget was curtailed to 700 billion won in a bid to provide more support to merchants battered by the pandemic. (Yonhap)
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