Reps agree on two bills, argue over a few more

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Reps agree on two bills, argue over a few more

The leaderships of the ruling and opposition parties came to agreement to vote on a package of legislation to boost the economy, the so-called One-Shot Act, as well as a bill on North Korean human rights next week.

In a meeting Saturday, the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Minjoo Party agreed to vote on the two bills at a plenary session of the National Assembly to be convened on Friday afternoon, which they announced in a joint briefing later that day.

But the two sides have yet to narrow their differences on a group of labor reforms bills and a counterterrorism act.

The so-called “One-Shot Act” aims to reduce legal procedures and provide tax cuts for businesses that are voluntarily sold off or purchased. It also covers mergers and acquisitions for companies and industry sectors in crisis due to oversupply.

If the bill is approved on Friday in a plenary session, it will be over 200 days since it was submitted to the National Assembly last July 9.

The North Korea Human Rights Act, which calls for the government’s involvement in the improvement of North Korea’s human rights situation, includes the setting up a bipartisan advisory committee on the issue under the Ministry of Unification.

Draft legislation was submitted to the National Assembly in June 2012, and the opposition has generally been against any bill on Pyongyang’s human rights record because it could worsen inter-Korean relations.

A clause calling for efforts to improve North Korean relations and “progress in the direction of inter-Korean relations and peace on the Korean Peninsula” was changed to reflect the opposition’s wording that uses the phrases “improve inter-Korean relations efforts to stabilize peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The so-called “three plus three” meeting included Saenuri floor leader Won Yoo-chul, Kim Jung-hoon, its chief policymaker, and Cho Won-jin, its deputy floor leader. From the opposition was the Minjoo Party’s floor leader Lee Jong-kul, Rhee Mok-hee, the party’s chief policymaker and Lee Chun-seok, its deputy floor leader.

Another meeting between the two leaderships resumed Sunday to narrow their differences on remaining issues, namely a group of four bills on labor reforms, a counterterrorism act and the redrawing of a new electoral constituency map.

The two sides have generally agreed to have 253 district seats and 47 seats for proportional seats on the new electoral constituency map, keeping the number of lawmakers at 300. The current number of district seats is at 246. Going into the Sunday meeting, Saeunri floor leader Won told Minjoo floor leader Lee, “Let us join hands with the intention to pass all [the bills] on Jan. 29.”

But the ruling and opposition parties are still at odds over the labor reform bills. The Blue House is adamant that the Terrorism Prevention Act and the set of labor reform bills be passed.

Earlier this month, President Park Geun-hye proposed a compromise to the labor community and opposition lawmakers to approve four out of five bills to overhaul the labor market while shelving a contentious plan concerning employers’ use of contract or non-regular workers.

A Blue House official on Sunday emphasized that the government already offered that compromise so the remaining four bills should be passed.

The opposition party has called for three of the labor reform bills to be passed first, excluding one on the protection of seconded workers.

President Park is expected to call for speedy approval of all the bills in a meeting with her senior secretaries Monday.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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