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Presidential candidates clash over how to increase the extra budget

Presidential candidates clash over how to increase the extra budget

Posted January. 22, 2022 07:25,   

Updated January. 22, 2022 07:25


Ruling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Friday proposed that all presidential candidates meet to discuss increasing the government’s extra budget to 35 trillion won. Lee made the proposal to increase the extra budget by more than 2.5 times an hour after the government approved a 14 trillion won supplementary budget through a Cabinet meeting. Critics pointed out that with only 46 days left until the presidential election, politicians scramble for increasing the additional extra budget, neglecting inflation, high interest rates and the burden of national debt.

In a press conference held at the National Assembly, Lee said he 100% agrees and welcomes the 35 trillion won supplementary budget initially proposed by the ruling People Power Party (PPP), and would like to propose an emergency meeting between all presidential candidates to support small business owners and the self-employed. The PPP has demanded that the government increase the extra budget to 32 trillion-35 trillion won by readjusting the government’s 608 trillion-won main budget.

“The fact that the PPP attached the condition, ‘by readjusting the government’s main budget,’ leaves me no choice but to doubt whether the party is making it impossible for the government to accept the proposal,” said Lee. “If all candidates agree, the government will be able to make up the budget of 35 trillion won, and the person in charge in the next government will secure detailed finances.” While the government opposed the ruling party’s request for an extra budget increase and passed the ball to the National Assembly, Lee appears to be putting pressure on finance authorities together with the opposition party, and aims to improve his approval ratings before the Lunar New Year’s holiday by dealing with the issue related to people’s livelihood.

In response, PPP presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol told reporters on the same day that he does not understand what more does Lee wants to talk about when he has said, since August last year, that the country needs at least 50 trillion won and has already talked about how and where to spend the money. “The right order is for the floor leaders of both parties discuss the issue first when the government sent the budget plan to the National Assembly,” Yoon said. “I’m not sure if this kind of behavior, instead of taking efficient measures, might appear sincere to the people ahead of the election.”

Although the PPP agrees with increasing the extra budget, it has a different view as to how to raise the funds. Therefore, a fierce battle is expected between the ruling and the opposition party in the process of handling the issue at the National Assembly. Kim Ki-hyun, the floor leader of the PPP, said on Friday that it is unacceptable to draw up an extra budget without readjusting the main budget.

Ji-Hyun Kim jhk85@donga.com · Hee-Chang Park ramblas@donga.com