Uncertainty grows over parliamentary passage of govt. budget proposal

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 27, 2018 - 13:24
  • Updated : Nov 27, 2018 - 17:10

Rival parties on Tuesday continued to clash over the government's 2019 budget proposal, clouding the prospect of its timely passage ahead of this weekend's deadline.

Dec. 2 is the legal deadline for the parliament to pass the government's record-high 470.5 trillion-won ($416.6 billion) budget bill for next year.


Despite a shortage of time ahead of the deadline, conservative parties on Monday suspended a budget review amid rival parties'

wrangling over an expected 4 trillion-won shortfall in tax revenues.

The government said that it expects the shortfall due to a series of tax cuts, including a 1.1 trillion-won deficit resulting from a temporary reduction in fuel taxes.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party denounced the government's budget bill for having "serious flaws" in the way it was calculated.

They also said that the government should not seek to issue bonds to fill an expected shortfall, urging the state to set up its own plan to cut fiscal spending.

"While the government drew up the so-called super budget, it missed a whopping 4 trillion won in revenue shortfall. That's a serious flaw in its budget calculations," Kim Sung-tae, the LKP's floor leader, told reporters.

"The government should not operate the national budget by rule of thumb," he added.

But the ruling Democratic Party strongly denounced the two conservative parties for suspending the budget review on the excuse of the shortfall.

"The two parties should resume the review. We've yielded many things to lead reviews of the budget and bills to be timely handled during the ongoing regular session," Hong Young-pyo, the DP's floor leader, said at a meeting with party officials.

The government is pushing for expansionary fiscal spending next year to prop up the slowing economy and buttress President Moon's peace initiative with North Korea.

Its budget proposal calls for a 9.7 percent on-year rise in spending -- the fastest increase since 2009, when outlays jumped

10.6 percent in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The opposition parties took issue with 1.1 trillion won set aside for inter-Korean projects and a record 23.5 trillion won for job creation.

A plenary session to handle the budget bill is slated for Friday, the last working day before the review deadline.

But National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang proposed Monday that the National Assembly hold the session on Sunday by taking into account the lack of time.

By law, the government's budget proposal is automatically sent to a plenary session in its original form on Dec. 1 if parliament fails to complete its budget review by Nov. 30.

Since 2014, the National Assembly has passed a legal deadline for the budget review every year except that year. (Yonhap)