Parties agree to pass urgent bills on May 17

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Parties agree to pass urgent bills on May 17

The National Assembly said Monday it will hold a plenary session on May 17 to pass major bills related to the economy and youth employment that the ruling and opposition parties agreed to prioritize on Sunday.

The floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri, the main opposition Minjoo Party, and the minor opposition People’s Party met on Sunday and agreed to prioritize passing economic bills related to youth employment and livelihoods of the public as well as the Special Act on Regulation-Free Zones.

In an agreement announced Sunday, the three party vowed to “do their best until the end of the 19th national Assembly,” whose extraordinary session is to end May 20.

The three parties’ meeting at a naengmyon, or cold noodle, restaurant near the National Assembly building in Yeouido came more than a week after the April 13 election, which handed the Saenuri a landslide defeat. Voters clearly wanted more action from their lawmakers.

In the election, the Saenuri Party of President Park Geun-hye lost its majority in the National Assembly and was reduced to second-largest party, leading to the resignation of Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung. The Minjoo Party became the largest party for the first time since 2004, while the People’s Party became a third force that may hold the deciding vote for many bills.

The deputy floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties will meet on Wednesday to discuss major bills to be passed at the plenary session.

At Sunday’s meeting, Reps. Won Yoo-chul, Saenuri floor leader, and Reps. Lee Jong-kul, his counterpart from the Minjoo, and Rep. Joo Seoung-yong, the floor leader of the People’s Party, put the youth employment bill as top priority, followed by the Special Act on Regulation-Free Zones.

However, still there are some hurdles that have to be cleared by the three parties.

The Saenuri Party’s bill increases a youth employment quota for public institutions from the current 3 percent to more than 5 percent. The Minjoo Party and the People’s Party presented bills to extend such quotas into the private sector, particularly at conglomerates.

The Saenuri Party disagrees with quota forced on private companies, saying it might even be unconstitutional.

As for the bill to establish regulation-free zones, which is intended to lift regulations in special zones in 14 metropolitan cities and provinces to boost development of certain industries such as solar energy for South Chungcheong, the Internet of Things for Daegu and maritime tourism for Busan, the three parties agreed to pass the bill after discussing supportive measures at the Strategy and Finance Committee of the National Assembly.

They also agreed to pass undisputed bills stuck at the Legislation and Judiciary Committee such as a child abuse prevention law that aims to strengthen punishment for parents who abuse their children and a revised medical law that will increase punishment for reusing disposable syringes.

BY JUNG HYO-SIK, LEE JI-SANG [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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