Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, visits a convenience store used for job training of disabled people in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, on Wednesday welcomed the opposition campaign chief's proposal to spend 100 trillion won ($84.9 billion) to support small business owners and self-employed people hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have been the stingiest nation in the world when it comes to supporting small business owners, passing over duties to people that are supposed to be handled by the state," Lee said during his campaign event for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Seoul.
"We must expand our support to small business owners much more than now," he said.
Lee said he would welcome a proposal by Kim Chong-in, the campaign chief of the main opposition People Power Party's presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol, to spend 100 trillion won to compensate small merchants and the self-employed if Kim were really sincere about it.
Yoon earlier proposed spending 50 trillion won to compensate small business owners hit by the pandemic. However, Kim said in a recent interview with a local newspaper that 50 trillion won is not enough and that the government should be prepared to inject 100 trillion won even by selling state bonds if there is no money.
Regarding discussions over adopting a four-day workweek, Lee said the reduction of labor hours is a path that the country will take at some point in the future, though he admitted that the move could put pressure on SMEs in the short-term.
"In the end, we need to move toward an advanced society of high wages and high consumption as the world economy grows and the quality of our lives improves," he said. "We cannot have these marginal firms rely on low wages and long labor hours till the end." (Yonhap)