Yoon Suk-yeol's extra budget, biggest ever, passed by assembly
In the vote held Sunday night, 246 legislators approved of the 251 that voted. Only one voted against.
The budget was increased from an initial proposed 59.4 trillion won ($47.2 billion) to 62 trillion won.
The amount to be spent compensating small businesses for losses due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions as well as quarantine efforts and financial aid to vulnerable households rose from 36.4 trillion won to 39 trillion won.
The President’s People Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic Party (DP), which has the largest number of seats in the National Assembly, reached agreement Sunday on approving the budget a day after Yoon’s request.
PPP floor leader Kwon Seong-dong said that the two parties reached agreement without conflict on Sunday after holding a meeting with his counterpart Park Hong-keun.
“I am very glad that we will be able to compensate small shop owners and the self-employed who suffered losses due to Covid-19,” he said.
“The DP has made a major decision to pass the supplementary budget today with urgency to help those that struggled as soon as possible and to give people hope including small shop owners and the self-employed,” DP floor leader Park said.
The two floor leaders met under the mediation of National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug and with Finance Minister Choo Kyoung-ho.
The extra budget, the biggest ever, was approved just few days ahead of local elections being held on Wednesday.
In long hours of negotiations on Saturday, the two parties sparred over one-time grants for small business owners.
Previously only businesses with annual revenues of 3 billion won or less were to receive one-time payments of 6 to 10 million won.
That standard was raised to 5 billion won in annual revenues.
Some 3.7 million businesses are expected to qualify.
Many businesses weren’t covered by previous government handouts, including travel agencies and performing arts companies.
Financial aid to freelancers and artists was doubled from 1 million won to 2 million won. Aid to company-owned taxi drivers and rental bus drivers was tripled from 1 million won to 3 million won.
The two parties agreed to cut the budget earmarked to pay off government debt. Instead of the 9 trillion won proposed by the government, the final amount was reduced to 7.5 trillion won.
The supplementary budget, Yoon’s first, it is the eighth since the pandemic began in 2020.
The previous highest extra budget was 35.1 trillion won in 2020.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]