The ruling Democratic Party of Korea, the government, and Cheong Wa Dae agreed on Wednesday to review expanding the supplementary budget to help fight against the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. “The supplementary budget is likely to be expanded and new government support programs are expected to be launched,” former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, who leads the ruling party’s coronavirus response committee, said after a meeting held at the National Assembly. “The government will announce additional measures no later than next week.”
“The government needs to expand the supplementary budget and take a forward-looking approach in order to address the impacts of the coronavirus and help stabilize people’s livelihood and revitalize the economy,” Floor Leader Lee In-young of the ruling party said at a supreme council members’ meeting on the day.
Earlier on March 2, the government submitted a supplementary budget bill amounting to 11.7 trillion won to the National Assembly. It is unusual for the government and the ruling party to discuss increasing the supplementary budget that has already been submitted.
“The situation in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province has been worsening compared to two weeks ago, when the supplementary budget was drawn up, and businesses that need emergency funding have expanded to aviation and transportation industries other than small businesses and the self-employed,” said a member of the ruling party’s policy planning committee. “Given that it is not enough to deal with the economic downturn caused by a prolonged COVID-19 scare, an increase of 2-3 trillion won is necessary.”
Opposition lawmakers with the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, however, criticized the details of the supplementary budget. “Much of the supplementary budget does not meet the requirements, pointing out that so little has been put aside for Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province,” Rep. Joo Ho-young of the United Future Party said. The party members also urged the government to apologize for its failed response. “The national debt will exceed 70 trillion won this year once more than 10 trillion won is additionally borrowed for the supplementary budget,” said Rep. Lee Jong-bae, who is a secretary on the National Assembly Special Committee on Budget and Accounts. “Prime Minister Chung Sye-gyun, before anything else, should make an apology on behalf of the government.”
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