National Assembly passes 2016 budget after deadlineThe ruling and opposition parties passed early Thursday morning a 386.4 trillion won ($331.4 billion) central government budget, slashing 306.2 billion won from the Park Geun-hye administration’s initial proposal.
The ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) cut 3.83 trillion won from the government proposal, while adding 3.52 trillion won for various regional projects and a drought prevention program. In total, lawmakers cut 306.2 billion won from the government’s initial request.
The budget passage failed to meet the statutory deadline by 48 minutes. The Constitution requires the National Assembly to pass the budget bill by Dec. 2 to allow 30-day preparation for its implementation.
The two sides also reached a compromise on the opposition party’s demand that the central government’s budget should be used for the free child care program for 3- to 5-year-olds. As of now, local governments were to pay for the program, which prompted an outpouring of complaints about the financial burden.
Based on the compromise, the government will use its budget of 300 billion won earmarked for facility maintenance to support the child care program.
They also passed Thursday five bills, including a bill to promote tourism and a bill to support Korea’s medical business in the global market.
The ruling and opposition parties struggled throughout Wednesday to follow through with their deal to approve next year’s budget and the series of economic bills. After hours of delay, the budget and economic bills were approved after midnight.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]