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New Spending Plans for 2001 Likely to Be Frozen

Dec 20,2000
Lawmakers yet again failed to meet the deadline to pass the 101-trillion-won ($85 billion) government budget for fiscal 2001, as both government and opposition parties looked set to bicker the point of deadlock that could freeze all new state spending next year.

With the two camps wide apart, the budget is unlikely to be introduced for approval at Friday's main session. The next main session is scheduled for Jan.8 and Jan. 9 next year.

The Ministry of Planning and Budget is to start work on a contingency budget based on the spending total for fiscal 2000.

Ruling party legislators did not show up Wednesday at the subcommittee meeting of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, which finalizes the budget before it is introduced at the main session for passage.

Instead, the two parties went into caucus meetings, blaming each other for the failure to pass the budget.

Rep. Mok Yo-sang of the opposition party laid the blame on Rep. Chang Che-shik, chairman of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, for vacating his position, thereby delaying the deliberation.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chang criticized the opposition party for asking for unprecedented spending cuts.

"In the past, the average deduction from the government has been at about 0.4 to 0.5 percent. The 8 trillion won cut in budget that the opposition party is demanding amounts to 10 percent," Mr. Chang said.

Legislators had agreed to deliberate on the budget bill during Wednesday's main session of the month-long extra session convened on Dec. 11.

The opposition Grand National Party is holding steadfastly to its demand for an 8 trillion won reduction in the government's spending plans, citing the slow rate of economic growth of 4 to 5 percent expected next year.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party wants the proposed budget approved as it stands, but has said it would agree to 500 billion won reduction.


by Chun Young-gi




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