Most will get tuition cut in GNP plan

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Most will get tuition cut in GNP plan

College students from households in the bottom 70 percent income bracket will have their tuition slashed by over 20 percent under a government and ruling party program to improve the livelihoods of working people, officials said yesterday.

The Grand National Party and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have agreed on measures to cut tuition fees by 21 percent for students from families in the bottom 70 percent income group.

Officials said the plan would cost 1.5 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in taxpayer money and 500 billion won in college scholarships.

The tuition plan came as the GNP and the government on Thursday started this year’s budget talks, with the party demanding 10 trillion won in increased spending for education and social welfare programs to fulfill its policy pledges.

The party has asked the government to cut education costs and expand welfare benefits in the face of public concerns over growing household debt and a widening income gap, which it believes could hurt the party in next year’s general and presidential elections.

“We will make an effort to allocate funds for livelihood programs as pledged by the party as much as possible,” Lee Joo-young, the GNP’s chief policy maker, said.

Another possible welfare program is increasing pension and insurance benefits for the elderly, Lee said.

In response to the ruling party’s demands for increased spending, Minister of Strategy and Finance Bahk Jae-wan expressed concern over a deteriorating fiscal situation, saying it is “worrisome in terms of tax revenue and expenditures.”

“Tax revenue is growing slower than last year, and sales of state-run companies are underway, while demands [for government spending] are expected to increase considering next year’s political situation,” Bahk said.

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