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S. Korean parliament likely to pass largest-ever extra budget in history

21st National Assembly (Yonhap)
21st National Assembly (Yonhap)

S. Korean lawmakers on Friday are set to pass a bill for the third extra budget of up to 35.3 trillion won ($29.5 billion) in the afternoon, marking the passage of the largest-ever supplementary budget, in an effort to cushion the economy from the blows of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press briefing held earlier in the day, ruling Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Park Hong-keun set the time for the National Assembly’s plenary session vote at 7 p.m., saying that related Special Committee on Budget and Accounts and subcommittee meetings will be held beforehand.

Park said that they have decided to cut the budget from the original amount of 35.3 trillion won submitted by the government in early June. The third extra budget is projected to see the largest cut yet among such bills, he added, refraining from giving details about the size of the cut, citing the need for more discussions with the government.

Onlookers have projected a cut in a range of some 100 billion to 600 billion won, which is unlikely to majorly change the bill.

On Tuesday, the assembly’s budget committee carried out a review session on the bill, despite discord with the main opposition United Future Party, which expressed its unwillingness to participate in the voting process.

The country has so far implemented two similar relief packages worth a combined 23.9 trillion won in March and April. They were used to funnel money into the nation’s struggling financial market and industries and cash relief program for all citizens.

Despite Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and other government officials’ push and support for the third extra budget, its three-day review process has been garnering criticism, with the opposition party calling the time frame “impossible,” indicating that budgets of such scale call for more time for deliberation.

By Jung Min-kyung (