3 million won grants to go to mini businesses forced to close
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the government agreed to hand out up to 3 million won ($2,700) to small shops hurt most by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Small shop owners whose businesses have been restricted or closed as a result of the tightened social distancing measures will qualify for the full 3 million won emergency grant, which includes 1 million won for rent payments.
Businesses that might qualify include noraebang, or singing rooms, and PC bang, or internet cafes.
The DP and government are also looking into grants for individuals with particularly insecure jobs such as freelancers. Similar grants were distributed from the fourth supplementary budget in September.
The ruling party and government will announce final details for the third round of emergency relief grants on Dec. 29.
“The self-employed, small businesses and people in vulnerable classes will need help as the pain [from Covid-19] has accumulated for nearly a year,” Lee Nak-yon, head of the DP, said at a meeting with Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki on Sunday. “Yet, I want to particularly apologize to those whose businesses have been restricted by government quarantine measures.
“We plan on providing every support we can in the emergency relief grants that will be distributed in January.”
Prime Minister Chung said he understands the growing impatience for vaccinations.
“The spread of Covid-19 isn’t slowing,” Chung said. “Small businesses and the self-employed are telling us the serious difficulties they are facing due to strengthened quarantine measures.”
The prime minister promised the government was doing its best.
“The government and the ruling party have gathered to discuss swift support for those that have been affected and [Covid-19] treatment and vaccines as the number of confirmed patients is rising,” Chung said.
Earlier this month, lawmakers approved a record 558-trillion-won budget for 2021, 9 percent larger than last year’s. It was the first time in 11 years that the final budget was larger than the government’s initial proposal.
The budget includes at least 3 trillion won for emergency relief grants for businesses hurt by social distancing measures, which will be the third round of such grants.
In the first round, the government spent a total of 14 trillion won including 12.2 trillion won covered from a second supplementary budget passed in April.
The second round, which was funded by a fourth supplementary budget passed in September, cost 7.8 trillion won. Those grants were given specifically to small businesses affected by stronger social distancing measures and people with insecure jobs such as freelancers.
A recent study by the state-owned Korea Development Institute (KDI) found that the first round, in which up to 1 million won was given to every household to boost consumption, did little to improve the economy. The KDI emphasized the need for grants to be given to very specific groups such as small businesses.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [email@example.com]