Government budget proposal focuses on jobs

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Government budget proposal focuses on jobs

Government agencies have requested a cumulative 424.5 trillion won ($377.1 billion) for their budgets next year, up 6 percent from this year’s spending.

The increase is the highest since 2014, when it also jumped 6 percent. By comparison, the budget request for 2017 was 398.1 trillion won, but the actual money spent was higher, at 400.5 trillion won, which suggests the actual budget allocated for next year might be higher than initially proposed.

Spending requests for seven sectors including welfare, education, research and development and national security have increased, while those of five sectors including social overhead capital projects (such as roads, schools and public parks) and agriculture have gone down, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

The proposed budget for welfare jumped 8.9 percent as government agencies asked for more money to be spent on national pension and social benefits for those in need, including the disabled and senior citizens.

The proposed budget for education-related sectors rose 7 percent, and the R&D spending request expanded 1.3 percent as many agencies are pursuing research projects related to the government’s “fourth industrial revolution” push, the Finance Ministry said.

The proposed budget for national security rose 8.4 percent as the government looks to fend off North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and expand benefits for soldiers, especially those working temporarily.

Government agencies appear to have made significant changes to their budgets in response to President Moon Jae-in’s policy pledge to create more jobs. The proposed budget for social overhead capital projects, which former President Park Geun-hye had focused on expanding, dropped 15.5 percent, and agriculture-related spending requests also decreased 1.6 percent.

A Finance Ministry official said the administration would review the proposals and submit them to the national legislature for its vote of approval by Sept. 1. During the review process, the administration will work on allocating more money saved from the government’s reserves, the official said, to be spent on the Moon administration’s policy goals, including job creation.

The Finance Ministry requested government agencies come up with budget proposals for the year in May. The timing was unusual because budgets are normally drawn around March, but since President Moon took office following a snap election triggered by the ouster of his predecessor, Park, the budget process has been moved up.

In line with Moon’s platform, the Finance Ministry ordered government agencies to prioritize job creation in their budget proposals, stating how many jobs they can create and what kind of impact they can have on the labor market.

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