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Ruling party, gov’t fail to reach agreement on 2022 budget

SEOUL-- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the government on Tuesday failed to reach a conclusion on next year's budget as they could not narrow differences on the amount of support for small merchants hit by the pandemic and issuance of regional prepaid cards.

"We have so far checked each other's stance," said Rep. Jo O-seop of the DP's special committee on budget and accounts after meeting with government officials, including Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. "The party is looking to give more support to small merchants as its effectiveness is proven, while many people want it, but the financial authorities showed some opposition regarding the scale of the support."

The DP is also calling for sharply raising the proposed budget for regional prepaid cards used by municipal governments. It wants at least 21 trillion won (US$17.6 billion) worth of prepaid cards to be issued next year, which is 15 trillion won more than the government's plan.

"We are trying to meet again as quickly as possible," Jo said. "Since the deadline for the budget bill passage is only two days away, we need to sort things out before then."

The DP is already in a tug of war with the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) over next year's budget.

The PPP wants to cut the budget for regional prepaid cards, while expanding support for small merchants and self-employed people.

The government in August proposed a record high budget of 604.4 trillion won for 2022, up 8.3 percent from this year's budget.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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