2012 budget on time, 5% higher
The ruling and opposition parties and the government agreed yesterday that the size of the national budget for next year would be 325.5 trillion won ($281.26 billion), 600 billion won less than the budget proposed by the government.
The agreement, made after hours of negotiations between leading lawmakers and government officials at the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, reflected 3.9 trillion won of cuts from the government’s proposed budget and 3.3 trillion won in additions.
The lawmakers agreed to pass the budget through a committee vote and then a plenary vote early today. That will make it the first time the National Assembly passed a national budget by the year’s end since the Lee Myung-bak administration began in 2008.
Following the agreement, no violence is expected with the bill’s passage, unlike unruly scenes seen last January. Next year’s budget will be 16.4 billion won higher than this year’s, or 5.3 percent.
The changes in the government’s proposed budget included a deduction of 167.5 billion won worth of tax revenue as a result of a tax system renovation. The parties also canceled the government’s plan to sell off a portion of the ownership of Incheon International Airport that was supposed to raise 431.4 billion won.
The additions to the government’s plan include bigger welfare programs, job creation programs and construction of new social infrastructure.
The so-called Park Geun-hye budget, a budget pushed by the GNP’s interim leader specifically for new job creation projects for low-income people, was set at 152.9 billion won. Park had wanted 400 billion won.
Under the program, 73,000 job seekers aged 29 or under as well as 150,000 job seekers aged 49 or older will receive 200,000 won per month as they look a job and get counseling and 310,000 won per month when they are being trained for the job.
The ruling and opposition parties demanded 500 billion won for free education for children up to the age of four, but the government expressed reluctance.
Finally, 369.7 billion won was earmarked for free education for children up to the age of two. All parties agreed to gradually expand the program to include children aged three and four.
They also agreed to increase social insurance payments for low-income laborers by 221.9 billion won and on a 330 billion won subsidy for the agro-fishery sector.
A tuition relief plan, pushed by the DUP, was expanded by 250 billion won from the government’s plan of 1.75 trillion won.
By Moon Gwang-lip [firstname.lastname@example.org]