Government handouts to start before the holidaysFinance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Thursday the government plans to provide another round of emergency relief funds to people hit hard by the pandemic before next month's fall harvest Chuseok holiday.
The country plans to provide 11 trillion won ($9.4 billion) to people in the bottom 88 percent income bracket under this year's second extra budget of 34.9 trillion won.
Hong said the government has decided to start the provision of cash handouts to the recipients before the Chuseok holiday scheduled for Sept. 20-22.
In May last year, the country doled out 14.3 trillion won in relief funds to all households to help them cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.'
In an effort to support pandemic-hit merchants, the country will also provide 90 percent of the relief aid of 4.22 trillion won to small merchants and the self-employed before the holiday.
The move is aimed at accelerating the provision of relief funds to struggling merchants as the country is grappling with the fourth wave of the pandemic.
Hong said the government plans to offer some 41 trillion won in financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as micro business owners, as part of measures to support them in the runup to the holiday.
In a related move, the country will extend the deadline for the payment of some taxes, and social insurance and utility fees for them.
Meanwhile, Hong said the government plans to increase the supply of major holiday-related foodstuff to help stabilize consumer inflation.
Demand for vegetables, eggs and other foods usually rises in Korea ahead of the Chuseok holiday as people prepare holiday meals for family gatherings.
The country will supply 19.2 tons of agricultural, livestock and fisheries products, up from the 15.3 tons of such products provided before and during last year's Chuseok holiday, according to the finance ministry.
The government will also strengthen the monitoring of major farm products, including eggs and beef, and release reserved rice and other grains into the market.
To help stabilize the price of eggs, the country will continue to import eggs and support egg farms, which reopened after a mass culling of poultry due to the outbreak of bird flu.
To spur consumption, the government will also resume a discount coupon program for online food delivery services next month.
The country's consumer prices rose more than 2 percent for the fourth straight month in July on higher prices of farm and oil products. The central bank aims to keep inflation at 2 percent over the medium term.'