Ruling party, gov’t start discussing extra budget for selective relief handouts

SEOUL-- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) started discussing the extra budget with the government to selectively provide the fourth round of emergency handouts to people and businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic by the end of next month, the party leader said Sunday.

DP Chairman Rep. Lee Nak-yon made the remarks in a press conference, adding both sides will wrap up the discussion within February.

Earlier, DP floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon said in another press conference that the party will push to pass the extra budget necessary for the handouts by early March to make sure they can be distributed by the end of the month.

"To promptly support those suffering from the third wave of infections, we will first discuss providing selective assistance," Kim said.

The size of the extra budget for the fourth handouts will likely be larger than that for the previous one.

The ruling party has been pushing to provide both targeted and all-inclusive relief programs as part of the fourth round of COVID-19 handouts.

But the floor leader said distributing stimulus checks to all people will be reviewed depending on the coronavirus situation going forward.

Since last year, South Korea has drawn up three rounds of emergency relief funds totaling 31.4 trillion won (US$28.1 billion), including the 14.3 trillion-won stimulus checks for all households in May last year.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki has publicly expressed concerns over a fiscal deficit, saying that it would be difficult to support both the universal and selective handout programs with the current state coffers.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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