Pressure builds for yet another supplementary budget

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Pressure builds for yet another supplementary budget

Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung making a New Year address at Kia's automobile production plant in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung making a New Year address at Kia's automobile production plant in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi on Tuesday. [YONHAP]

The pressure is on for another supplementary budget.  
 
With public frustrations rising over tough social distancing regulations, Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Tuesday called for another supplementary budget before the Lunar New Year holidays in early February.  
 
“There should be preemptive support for small business owners and self-employed suffering from Covid-19 restrictions,” Lee said in a New Year speech delivered at a Kia automobile production plant in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi, Tuesday. 
 
“I request an official discussion at the National Assembly on a large supplementary budget.”  
 
Lee said the extra budget should be implemented before the Lunar New Year.  
 
“The target should be between 25 and 30 trillion won ($25 billion),” Lee said.  
 
He said each Korean should receive a minimum of 1 million won.  
 
“Support has been less than 500,000 won per person [in Korea] but in 2020, other countries provided support of 1 million won for each person,” Lee said. 
 
He was referring to the last round of emergency relief grants, which were given to most of Koreans except for the richest.  
 
Eligible people received 250,000 won.  
 
If a supplementary budget is pushed through, it would be the seventh since the pandemic began.  
 
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki at the Finance Ministry's office in Sejong on Monday. [YONHAP]

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki at the Finance Ministry's office in Sejong on Monday. [YONHAP]

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki on Monday raised the possibility of another supplementary budget although he emphasized that government spending for this year, approved by legislators last month, is just starting.  
 
“Today [Monday] is the day that the 607 trillion won budget kicks off and there could be various thoughts as to whether it is appropriate to discuss a supplementary budget on the first day,” Hong said on a brief visit to the finance ministry press room on Monday.  
 
Hong did not strongly oppose a supplementary budget, as he as in the past.  
 
“The supplementary budget raised by the political community should be heard as one of the many opinions from the public,” Hong said.  
 
He stressed that there should be strong reasons for creating an extra budget.  
 
The Blue House and Prime Minister have resisted calls for another supplementary budget from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) since late last year.  
 
Previously, Hong warned against additional budgets, citing the risk of borrowing more.  
 
Korea’s national debt at the end of 2021 was estimated at 965.3 trillion won, up 14 percent from 2020.  
 
That’s 47.3 percent of the nation’s GDP.  
 
 

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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