The South Korean government and local municipalities are coming up with an emergency plan to double subsidies for low-income households to tackle the mounting complaints about the recent spike in utility bills from earlier in the new year.
“Our plan aims to subsidize heating bills for 1.6 million low-income families,” Senior Presidential Secretary for Economic Affairs Choi Sang-mok said Thursday in a briefing at the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul. “It will expand energy vouchers and make a significant cut in gas bills to help them cope with the energy bills.”
The amount of provisional energy vouchers will be increased from 152,000 won to 304,000 won, which is reserved for 1.17 million and six thousand vulnerable households categorized by livelihood, medical, education, basic livelihood recipients, and seniors. KOGAS (Korea Gas Corporation) has also increased the cut rate from 9,000 - 36,000 won to 18,000 won - 72,000 won for 1.6 million financially struggling households.
The Seoul Metropolitan government also announced its subsidy plan for energy bills worth 34.6 billion won. For 300,000 basic livelihood recipients, 100,000 won will be dished out for each, amounting to 30 billion won. The subsidies will be offered automatically, with no registrations required.
Financial pressure will likely rise as the government is planning to crank up the price of gas bills throughout the second quarter of this year. “There should have been efforts to raise the price of energy bills to more realistic levels, but it was not enough,” Secretary Choi explained.
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