Gov’t pledges compensation for victims’ families

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Gov’t pledges compensation for victims’ families

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The government began talks on financial compensation for families of fatalities in the capsizing of the ferry Sewol, with a plan to provide each with an amount 240 times the national minimum monthly wage.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said yesterday it will front-load the government’s budget for the families, although the final decision on total compensation wasn’t made.

In a report to the Strategy and Finance Committee of the National Assembly, the ministry said it will provide a range of compensation, both directly and indirectly, to families of passengers who were killed, injured or are missing, after the government designated Jindo in South Jeolla, and Ansan in Gyeonggi, special disaster zones.

For families of the dead, the government is planning to provide up to 240 times the national standard for the minimum wage. By law, the current minimum wage is 1.09 million won ($1,047) per month.

“It is possible to provide direct financial support such as compensation for the dead and indirect support such as deductions for taxes, national insurance and college tuition,” the ministry said in a report.

Victims may get deductions of 30 percent to 50 percent for paying national health insurance premiums. They may be fully exempted from paying premiums for the national pension system.

Different ministries will offer support from their current budgets for costs incurred in the search operations at the accident site and nearby.

A final version of the compensation plan will be made after each ministry agrees to it. But the Finance Ministry will execute some of its part of the plan earlier.

“The ministry will spare no financial support when the size of the measures are confirmed in the near future,” the ministry said. “Even before confirming the plan, the ministry will approve spending for victims’ families.”

“There is no other way to express my grief and sorrow,” said Hyun Oh-seok, finance minister and deputy prime minister at the National Assembly. “The ministry is running a task force to support the ongoing operations financially. It will try to make the support effective for everyone.”

The minister also mentioned providing loans for businesses of the victims’ families.

Students from Danwon High School in Ansan, Gyeonggi, who were on board the ferry, subscribed to a group travel insurance package with Dongbu Fire Insurance.

The policy pays 100 million won for death and serious injuries, 5 million won for medical treatment and 200,000 won for lost or destroyed belongings.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]



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