Overly pricey welfare pledge claims minister

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Overly pricey welfare pledge claims minister

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Chin Young

Minister of Health and Welfare Chin Young has offered to quit because a campaign promise to give all senior citizens more financial support has proven too expensive to fulfill.

The 62-year-old minister played a leading role in writing President Park Geun-hye’s promises on welfare issues during last year’s campaign.

The Chosun Ilbo reported yesterday that Chin expressed his intention to step down to take responsibility for the promise that will almost certainly be abandoned.

A close aide to the minister told the JoongAng Ilbo that Chin “felt it is an inevitable choice for him to take political responsibility” because he played “a pivotal role in coming up with the basic pension policy idea” in the first place.

During the campaign, Park promised a 200,000 won ($184) basic monthly pension to all people 65 years old and older.

But in the face of growing budgetary constraints, it is highly anticipated that the government will offer a monthly pension of up to 200,000 won only to senior citizens in the lower 70 to 80 percent income brackets.

And the basic pension is expected to differ based on individuals’ income levels and how much they paid into the national pension system.

On Thursday, the government is expected to announce its revised plan for the senior citizen basic monthly pension.

Political analysts said Chin’s resignation may be a first step for the Welfare Minister to run in the Seoul mayoral election next June.

The former judge has been considered one of the ruling Saenuri Party’s potential candidates to challenge incumbent Park Won-soon, who is expected to run for re-election.

Chin, who is on a visit to Saudi Arabia to promote medical tourism to Korea, returns Wednesday and is expected to make public his resignation offer.

As reports of Chin’s possible resignation emerged yesterday, speculation rose that Park may carry out a cabinet reshuffle in the near future.

In response to reports, the major opposition Democratic Party quickly condemned the Park administration for walking away from welfare pledges.

“A minister’s decision to leave his job will not make up for the people’s disappointments and anger for the people’s trust in government will be lost,” said DP spokesman Park Yong-jin at a press briefing yesterday.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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