Stimulus bill to be passed soon

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Stimulus bill to be passed soon

After weeks of delay, the floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and opposition Minjoo Party of Korea and People’s Party on Friday finally decided on a date for the National Assembly plenary session to pass the supplementary budget bill for 2016.

In a meeting chaired by National Assembly Speaker Rep. Chung Sye-kyun on Friday, Saenuri floor leader Rep. Chung Jin-suk, Minjoo floor leader Rep. Woo Sang-ho and the People’s Party floor leader Rep. Park Jie-won agreed to pass the bill on Aug. 22, and immediately commence operations of the Assembly’s Special Committee on Budget and Accounts.

According to the floor leaders, the extraordinary session of the National Assembly will start Tuesday and last until Aug. 31.

The floor leaders also said they would settle the 2015 budget and finalize the list of Supreme Court justice nominees during the session.

The passage of the supplementary budget bill had been contested due to the opposition parties’ demands that hearings on the restructuring of the shipping and shipbuilding industry be held before the plenary session. The three floor leaders appear to have cleared this hurdle in their meeting Friday.

According to the floor leaders, a hearing to decide on the details of the restructuring will be held on Aug. 23 and 24 in the Assembly’s Strategy and Finance Committee, while the National Policy Committee will hold its hearing on the restructuring plans on Aug. 24 and 25.

“The ruling Saenuri Party emphasized that the Assembly cannot afford to lose a day if it wants to pass the supplementary budget bill before the Chuseok holiday,” said People’s Party spokesman Lee Yong-ho. “[The floor leaders’ agreement] was reached keeping this in mind.”

The meeting also determined that the Nuri Program, a child care subsidy program for children between the ages of three and five, will receive a three-party policymaking committee presided by the strategy and finance minister and the education minister. The program, established in 2012, has long been a point of contention between the central government and the provincial education offices, which could not agree on how it would be financed.

The floor leaders also decided to extend the duration of the special fact-finding committee on the Sewol ferry disaster, which in April 2014 took the lives of 304 passengers, many of them high school students traveling to Jeju Island for a field trip.

While the committee’s legal term ended in early July, the floor leaders are looking to extend it, and said the exact time period and other details will be determined in the near future.

“With the ongoing work to salvage the ferry from the sea,” said Saenuri spokesman Min Kyung-wook, “the fact-finding committee will be needed to investigate the hull.”

BY LEE JI-SANG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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