Finance chief opposes increased gov’t spending

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Finance chief opposes increased gov’t spending

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan expressed his opposition to expanding the government’s spending next year.

“It is desirable to stick to the government’s original budget plan for next year,” Bahk told reporters after attending a ceremony for the opening of the finance ministry’s office in Sejong City yesterday.

“The budget proposal was crafted with the expansionary stance in mind, and we have done our best to draw up the plan in response to economic situations,” Bahk said.

The original budget plan devised in September is currently being deliberated at the National Assembly.

Bahk has been maintaining a consistent stance opposed to increasing next year’s expenditures or making a supplementary budget in order to achieve the current government’s goal of fiscal soundness.

He said the economic situation isn’t that bad yet with no need to additionally craft stimulus measures by injecting more money to prop up growth.

However, since the finance ministry has earmarked the smallest possible amount of budget for the next government, it is highly likely that president-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition team for a new administration will call for increasing the budget.

In the budget proposal in September, the government sought to spend 342.5 trillion won ($319.3 billion) next year, up 5.3 percent from this year’s 325.4 trillion won.

Some argue that the government might need more money to finance welfare programs and other campaign pledges made by Park.

The ministry earmarked 97.1 trillion won for health, welfare and labor affairs, up 4.8 percent from this year. However, Park pledged to spend a total of 135 trillion won on welfare for the next five years.

The National Assembly’s special committee on the budget plan resumed yesterday after the presidential election.

By Song Su-hyun, Yonhap [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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