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Political parties repurpose pending bills for election promises

Political parties repurpose pending bills for election promises

Posted February. 28, 2024 07:37,   

Updated February. 28, 2024 07:37


Three of the five campaign promises proposed for the April 10 general elections by both Korea's ruling and opposition parties are reportedly closely tied to 25 bills that are still pending in the 21st National Assembly. One particular bill, which involves providing advance subsidies for child-rearing expenses for single parents, was introduced as early as July 2020 at the beginning of the 21st National Assembly. However, it is still pending approval as the session draws to a close, remaining under the purview of the relevant standing committee. Experts criticize the parties for essentially "repackaging" bills that they have neglected so far during the session as campaign promises aimed at supporting the livelihoods of ordinary people.

Both parties have three key campaign pledges: government support for nursing fees, free meals at senior citizen centers, and advance child-rearing subsidies for single parents. The bill for railway undergroundization was successfully passed during the regular session. In contrast, the bill to double policy funding support for small businesses did not even reach the stage of being put forward for consideration.

As of Tuesday, the National Assembly's online platform for bill information showed that opposition party lawmaker Lee Yong-sun introduced the nursing fee support bill in September 2022, aiming to alleviate the financial burden, estimated at 4.5 million Korean won monthly. Despite being proposed a year and five months ago, the bill has not been discussed in the subcommittee for bill review under the National Assembly's Health and Welfare Committee. According to one source within the committee, the bill was overshadowed by other key legislation, particularly those related to essential medical packages. Another source indicated that the bill received little attention, largely due to it being primarily introduced by lawmakers outside the Health and Welfare Committee.

The bill to provide free lunches for elderly citizens at centers more than five times a week has been introduced 12 times since ruling party member Kim Tae-ho first proposed it in April 2021. However, it has not progressed to the general meeting of the standing committee or is still awaiting review at the subcommittee level. The government has opposed the idea, and as a result, the bill has not been discussed.

The advance subsidies for single parenting were initially proposed in July 2020 but have never undergone thorough discussion despite multiple introductions.

Hye-Ryung Choi herstory@donga.com