As part of its efforts to fight COVID-19 the government has SUBMITTED a THIRD supplementary budget proposal WORTH nearly 30 BILLION U.S. dollars to the National Assembly.
Now lawmakers are REVIEWING the RECORD-BREAKING budget HOPING to pass it by Friday.
For more on this I have our National Assembly correspondent Kim Mok-yeon here in the studio.
Let's start by breaking down the government's 30 billion dollar supplementary budget proposal Mok-yeon.
Sure, the government's third extra budget proposal of the year, worth nearly 30 billion U.S. dollars, is the biggest ever single extra budget in Korean history.
This is the first time in 48 years that South Korea drew up a third extra budget in one calendar year, and it is the sixth supplementary budget overall under the Moon administration.
Much of it will be used as a buffer against the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 7.3 billion dollars have been set aside to stabilize the job market, by supporting irregular workers and the unemployed, while some 4 billion dollars will be used to subsidize small businesses and local companies in hard-hit industries.
The budget will also be used to strengthen the social safety net for low-income and vulnerable segments of the population.
Now you mentioned the government INJECTING money to cope with EXISTING problems but I hear the budget will also COVER more future-oriented goals?
Yes, in fact, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun himself highlighted that the third budget will also act as a stepping stone to support the country's future economic growth
Let's take a listen.
"This extra budget has been drawn up to help our citizens suffering from COVID-19, by strengthening quarantine measures and building a platform that could help our economy recover through the Korean-version of the New Deal."
( 19 , , . )
In line with that vision, nearly 700 million dollars of the budget have been allocated for the Digital New Deal initiative, aimed at strengthening data, networks and artificial intelligence infrastructures.
15 million dollars will be injected in research and development of COVID-19 vaccines and another 18 million to create a Korean quarantine system that could be useful in managing future pandemics.
Now Mok-yeon considering the FACT that this is ALREADY the THIRD EXTRA budget for this year alone how does the government plan to come up with the money?
Well, like you've mentioned, yes the latest supplementary budget is the third of its kind this year, following the first, worth 9.6 billion dollars in March., and the second, worth 10 billion dollars in April.
And despite those efforts, it decided to submit a rare third proposal, given the deep and wide-ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for ways to finance the budget, the government plans to issue 19.8 billion dollars in state bonds, while revising its spending plan in other areas.
Can you tell us about some of the practical changes that we could expect from the passage of the third budget?
Well, to be more specific, more than a million freelancers and non-regular workers will be able to receive around 1,250 dollars, while 400,000 unemployed will receive the same amount in jobless benefits.
The government will guarantee jobs of some 580,000 employees who work for companies facing financial difficulties, and 550,000 new jobs will be created through the budget.
Given the urgency of the situation, the government plans to implement 75 percent of the budget within 3 months from when it receives the greenlight from parliament.
So how is the situation UNFOLDING over at the parliament?
For nearly a month, rival parties were at odds over the distribution of standing committee chairs that will make up the 21st National Assembly, so they weren't able to begin their reviews.
President Moon Jae-in called on parliament to swiftly pass the bill, stressing its urgency in helping the public's livelihoods.
. 3 .
"I hope the parliament will not turn a blind eye to the public's economic difficulties. I once again ask the parliament to respond to the desperate needs of our people and our businesses."
Earlier this week, the ruling Democratic Party, which holds the majority of seats in the new parliament, together with National Assembly speaker Park Byeong-seug, decided to push forward in electing the chairs despite resistance from the main opposition United Future Party.
So, the standing committees have been reviewing the budget without opposition lawmakers for the past few days, and on Tuesday, lawmakers handed over their revised budget which is up 2.6 billion dollars from the government proposal, to the Budget Coordination Committee for detailed screening.
Once finished, this will then be handed over to the Finance Ministry for them to fill out the budget statement, which will then be put up for a full floor vote at a plenary session of parliament.
Now, despite the continuing boycott and opposition from the United Future Party, the ruling party plans to push through with the plan and pass the final budget proposal by Friday, before the end of the June extraordinary session.
All right that was our Kim Mok-yeon with the latest on the government's record-breaking extra budget thank you for speaking with us Mok-yeon.