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New Gov`t Plan to Help Lower Income and Poor

Posted December. 17, 2008 08:36,   


More public emergency aid will go to low-income families, with the government warning that a recession in the real economy could result in corporate restructuring, fewer jobs and increasing poverty in the country.

The Finance and Strategy Ministry yesterday released a plan for economic management next year to the president, citing crisis management measures based on protecting low income and vulnerable groups and maintaining the existing number of jobs.

“Low-income households are the first and the most vulnerable group to be hit by a recession,” President Lee Myung-bak told a meeting of social welfare officials in the presidential office. “The government will strengthen the social safety net and preemptively protect this vulnerable group.”

“The financial crisis has increased the number of welfare recipients, and we need to take immediate action for the new poor.”

He also said, “The government must help the group left out of the social safety net. We must help their livelihoods and give their children educational opportunities. I will make sure to implement these two things despite the financial crisis.”

Under the new plan, the focus will shift to offering financial assistance to companies that share the pain by dividing jobs instead of corporate restructuring.

The government will dramatically increase subsidies to restructuring companies that do not lay off staff through offering time off, personal leave and job training. Small and medium-size companies will receive training and employment fees for alternative human resources in the paid-leave training session.

The government will expand coverage of basic livelihood security and offer the homeless jobs in the public sector and shelter. In addition, a safety net will go to those who became poor in the wake of the financial crisis.

For example, emergency welfare aid, which used to go to a family if a breadwinner died or ran away, will be also be given in the event of disease, injury or accident.

The government will also alleviate punishment for petty criminals who broke the law to earn a livelihood.

The Justice Ministry and the Public Administration and Security Ministry also released livelihood and security protection measures for citizens. They will cut fines for people who violated rules to earn a living and basic livelihood subsidy recipients, and postpone prosecution for economic criminals.

People who barely make a living or medical patients will be allowed to split or delay the payment of fines. The government will also put fewer people behind bars for failure to pay fines.

A general amnesty slated for Christmas Eve will benefit 1,300 convicted criminals, double the average monthly number of people on parole, most of whom will be petty criminals or people age 60 or above.

Prosecutors and police will not go after lesser violations of administrative rules, such as illegal street vending, until the economy rebounds.

On the other hand, the government will crack down harder on crimes such as illegal private loans to the poor, pyramid or illegal door-to-door marketing and voice phishing.

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry will also set up all-day programs at kindergartens for double or low-income parents.

Nearly 80 percent of kindergartens ran all-day childcare programs last year, but under the plan, the figure will rise to 95 percent next year and 100 percent by 2010.

Assistance to college students will be also expanded. A government work scholarship that used to be limited to junior college students will be offered to university students, thus allowing 36,000 students to benefit.