GNP’s Hwang pledges free child care for all

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GNP’s Hwang pledges free child care for all

The ruling party says it will expand free child care to eventually cover all families with children under the age of five, adding to its growing list of welfare pledges as the Grand National Party looks ahead to next year’s general and presidential elections.

Calling the plan a must to raise the country’s plummeting birthrate, floor leader Hwang Woo-yea said yesterday that the expansion would be implemented gradually.

“At first, we need to offer free child care to families with newborn babies under the age of one,” Hwang said. “And then we should gradually expand the program to all children under the age of five within the next three or four years.”

Hwang’s plan, unveiled at an event marking his 100th day as the conservative party’s floor leader, is more expansive than the liberal Democratic Party’s January pledge to extend free child care to families in the bottom 80 percent of the country by income.

The government currently offers subsidies to households in the bottom 70 percent by income. Families with children under the age of five are eligible for the program.

The latest pledge by the ruling party is in addition to an existing government plan to offer free child care to all families with five-year-old children starting next year by making day care and kindergarten part of the nation’s compulsory public education.

“The current cost of day care centers, about 400,000 won [$374] to 600,000 won per month, is a big burden for young couples,” Hwang said. “And that hinders the growth of the middle class and promotes the fall in the birthrate.”

The National Assembly Budget Office says that Hwang’s entire plan would cost at least 2.9 trillion won annually.

Hwang said the first phase of his party’s pledge - providing free child care to parents of newborns - will cost 1 trillion won a year.

Meanwhile, ruling and opposition lawmakers agreed to discuss easing eligibility requirements for the government’s student loan program, called Income Contingent Loan, which allows borrowers to pay back the loan after graduation.

The student loan program currently stipulates a minimum “B” grade point average and family income in the bottom 70 percent of the country.

Lawmakers are discussing revising the student loan program to permit loans for all students with a minimum “C” grade point average instead, regardless of their household incomes.

The National Assembly’s Education, Science and Technology Committee will hold a meeting today to discuss the proposed changes.

By Kim Hee-jin []

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“0~4세 무상보육 추진” 황우여 ‘복지공세’ 2탄

황우여 원내대표한나라당 황우여 원내대표가 7일 0~4세 영·유아에 대한 무상보육 추진 의사를 밝혔다. 취임 100일을 앞두고 연 기자간담회에서다. 원내대표 취임 직후 등록금 부담 경감 정책을 제안해 당론으로 만든 그가 ‘복지공세 2탄’을 쏘아올린 셈이다.

 황 원내대표는 기자간담회에서 “등록금 문제가 정리되면 보육을 주제로 삼겠다”며 “저출산 문제 해소를 위해 0~4세 영·유아 보육·교육을 의무교육 개념에 준해 확대할 필요가 있다”고 주장했다. 그러면서 “우선 0세부터 지원을 시작해야 한다”며 “그러면 늦어도 3~4년 내엔 (0~4세 무상보육이) 실시되지 않겠느냐”고 했다. 현재 정부는 부모 소득이 하위 70%에 해당하는 0~5세 영·유아에 대해서만 보육료를 지원하고 있다.

 황 원내대표는 무상보육에 필요한 예산과 관련 , “0세에 대해 무상보육을 실시해도 예산은 1조원 미만으로 들 것”이라며 “(4세까지도) 증세 없이 가능하다”고 주장했다. 연평균 3조원인 지방교육재정교부금으로 조달이 가능하다는 것이다.

 하지만 한나라당은 올 초 민주당이 무상보육론을 당론으로 채택하자 “공짜 보육은 우리 아이들을 빚쟁이로 만들 정책”이란 성명을 냈다. 이 때문에 민주당 이용섭 대변인은 7일 “한나라당이 민주당의 복지정책을 베끼고 있다”고 황 원내대표의 구상을 비판했다.

  24일 무상급식 주민투표를 준비 중인 오세훈 서울시장 측에서도 우려의 목소리가 나왔다. 서울시 관계자는 “서울시가 ‘무상복지와의 전쟁’을 앞두고 있는 시점에서 여당에서 무상보육을 발표한 것은 아쉽다”고 말했다. 이런 가운데 황 원내대표의 ‘러닝메이트’였던 한나라당 이주영 정책위의장은 이날 오 시장과 만찬회동을 열고 중앙당 차원의 지원을 약속했다.

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