DP plans to ram through extra budget on its own
The DP unilaterally passed the bill through the National Assembly's budget committee early Saturday, a move that outraged the main opposition PPP. The parliamentary budget committee meeting was boycotted by the PPP, who has called for a larger supplementary budget.
After clashing over the extra budget bill, ruling and opposition party leaders appeared to reach a consensus Monday morning and agreed to approve the bill in a plenary session that evening.
DP floor leader Yun Ho-jung and PPP floor leader Kim Gi-hyeon held a 30-minute meeting convened by parliamentary speaker Park Byeong-seug at the National Assembly and jointly announced to reporters that they planned to pass the budget bill at 6 p.m.
The two parties' floor leadership continued negotiations to fine tune revisions to the bill through the afternoon, but the talks eventually collapsed.
After negotiations fell through, the DP said that it would unilaterally submit its amended bill to the plenary session at 7 p.m.
"There was no agreement between the ruling and opposition parties," Yun told reporters after the meeting, without elaborating. "Even so, our party has made it clear that the supplementary budget bill must be passed today."
Most of the initially proposed supplementary budget was supposed to go to 3.2 million shop owners and business owners hurt by the pandemic, who will each get 3 million won. An additional 1.9 trillion won will go to subsidies for small business owners and 1.5 trillion won will be spent on strengthening antivirus measures.
The DP proposed Sunday to raise the extra budget bill to 17.5 trillion won to include more people hit by the pandemic. This would add another 3.5 trillion won to the government's initial proposal to support some 1.4 million workers, including freelancers and contract workers. It also provides for Covid-19 home test kits to be distributed.
The amount the DP settled on Monday was 16.9 trillion won, an increase of 3.3 trillion won from the 14 trillion won proposed by the government.
The two parties later that evening resumed negotiations.
On the same day, DP president candidate Lee Jae-myung declared he would establish a special committee for emergency Covid-19 relief as his first executive order if he wins the March 9 election.
Lee held a press conference Monday morning in which he distanced himself from the current Moon Jae-in administration's Covid-19 scheme in favor of relaxing current restrictions, pledging a change "starting March 10."
He said if he is elected, a special emergency relief committee will basically serve as his presidential transition committee.
Regarding the supplementary budget bill, Lee said, "The missing parts in the extra budget will be supplemented with economic booster shots after the election."
President Moon Jae-in presided over a meeting of senior aides Monday and said, according to Blue House spokesperson Park Kyung-mee, "Policies and debates that further promote values such as welfare, labor, and democracy need to be actively discussed during the presidential election and further developed by the next administration."
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]