In a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in said it is an inevitable task to lessen the burden on the owners of small-sized businesses and the self-employed in regard with COVID-19 relief subsidies. His remarks were aimed at stressing the need of the fourth round of disaster relief grants. Subsequently, Lee Nak-yeon, the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, said a supplementary budget will be drawn up for another bout of aid.
In a speech at the National Assembly, Chairman Lee said he will get sufficient supplementary budget in a timely manner, vowing to have a concerted discussion for tailored provision for citizens. This means he will push for a mix of selective support for small-sized business owners and a comprehensive provision for all citizens as seen during the first round. As to the unconditional subsidies for all, however, Lee added that the time of offering will be adjusted depending on the COVID-19 trajectory.
The ruling party’s official announcement on the subsidy plan will likely accelerate the discussion on supplementary budget in the provisional session of the National Assembly in February. Given the 14 trillion-won input for the first round of relief subsidies, which dished out 1 million won per four-member family, the scale of the first additional budget this year will reach at least 20 trillion won.
Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki clearly expressed his opposition on his Facebook posting after Lee’s speech, saying, “National finance cannot simply be measured as against GDP and treated as numbers only. It is not infinite either.” The finance minister added that the two-track approach of offering selective and comprehensive subsidies is hard to accept for the government.
Hye-Ryung Choi firstname.lastname@example.org