Lee calls for speed, amity as budget session starts

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Lee calls for speed, amity as budget session starts

President Lee Myung-bak called on the National Assembly to swiftly pass next year’s budget by early December, while opposition Democratic Party members prepared to fight the budgets of Lee’s key projects, including the four-rivers restoration project.

“The [ruling] party, the government and the Blue House should work together closely to ensure the passage of budget-related bills,” Lee was quoted as saying in a meeting with chief presidential secretaries yesterday by his spokeswoman, Kim Hee-jung.

Lee urged lawmakers to meet the legal deadline of Dec. 2 for passing bills to show the public that the National Assembly itself abides by the law.

Lee said he “hopes the National Assembly meets the legal deadline so that there’s no setback in implementing next year’s budget plans for low- and middle-income people.”

The assembly’s budget session opened yesterday.

While Lee’s government has proposed a 5.7 percent increase in next year’s budget to 309.6 trillion won ($277.3 billion), DP lawmakers pledged to slash much of it, particularly for Lee’s four-rivers restoration project.

“The most important thing for this year’s budget session is to slash a great amount from the four-rivers project and give something back to the public by using the saved amount for improving the welfare of the underprivileged and low-income classes and by providing free school lunches,” said DP spokeswoman Jeon Hyun-heui.

Grand National Party leader Ahn Sang-soo said in a meeting with GNP lawmakers yesterday that the National Assembly hasn’t met the legal deadline for passing budget-related bills for the last eight years. Aside from the rivers project, the ruling and opposition parties are divided on financial support to the Korea Land and Housing Corporation and increasing the welfare budget for low-income families.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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