Ministry will monitor won’s rise against dollar

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Ministry will monitor won’s rise against dollar

Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said Monday that the government plans to cope “firmly” with the Korean currency’s rise against the U.S. dollar, but any intervention will come only when market volatilities are too high.

The minister told reporters during a meeting that the won’s rally is mainly fueled by the U.S. dollar’s weakness.

“Although the foreign exchange rates are decided by the market, we will maintain the principle that we will deal firmly with excess hoarding situations,” he said.

The Korean won’s advance risks eroding demand for Korean exports. Last week, the won rose 1.2 percent against the U.S. dollar.

During the meeting, Kim expressed optimism that Korea could achieve 3 percent growth this year, despite a weaker global recovery and sluggish consumption at home.

In October, the Bank of Korea raised its growth forecast for Korea’s gross domestic product to 3 percent for 2017, up 0.2 percentage point from its earlier estimate.

The International Monetary Fund also adjusted its forecast for Korean GDP growth to 3 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from its April estimate, citing general recovery in global trade.

Kim urged lawmakers to promptly pass a budget bill for next year, saying timely approval would help the nation achieve its policy targets next year.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance also plans to unveil an ordinance this week to levy taxes on local clergy next year.

At present, Christian priests and pastors, along with Buddhist monks and people engaged in religious activity, do not have to pay income taxes, as the Korean government has granted them income tax exemption since the country’s establishment in 1948.

Buddhists, Catholics and progressive Christian groups are supportive of the tax reforms, saying that many leaders of their religions have been paying income taxes on a voluntary basis.

Still, some conservative religious groups are against the government’s plan to lift the tax waiver, claiming such a step will lead to meddling in religious affairs through tax investigations. Yonhap
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