Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, floor leader of the People Power Party, speaks during a meeting Friday. (Joint Press Corps)
South Korea’s political circle is yet to reach a compromise over the Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s supplementary budget proposal made earlier this month, with prospects remaining unclear whether the proposal will pass the final vote at the National Assembly this month.
Floor leaders of the ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea announced Friday that the two failed to reach a deal on the budget proposal despite holding a two-hour discussion over lunch.
The floor leaders will be holding a meeting with Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho later to continue talks on the budget proposal.
The Yoon administration earlier proposed a total of 59.4 trillion won ($49.5 billion) -- composed of 36.4 trillion won in spending and 23 trillion won in grants to regional governments -- based on the expected increase in tax income from this year. The plan does not require any debt sale, according to the proposal.
The proposal would provide between 6 million won and 10 million won to 3.7 million business entities throughout the country.
The People Power Party has vocally expressed support for the proposal, saying it must be swiftly passed at the National Assembly so that the funds are distributed as soon as possible, preferably within this month.
While agreeing on the need for a supplementary budget, the Democratic Party opposed the Yoon administration’s proposal, saying the proposal should be enlarged by close to 20 trillion won so that support measures for pandemic-hit business owners are made greater.
The supplementary budget, as proposed, is not enough to truly make up the losses these individuals incurred from social distancing rules and other anti-virus measures, they say.
Yet it has been widely interpreted that the Democratic Party is vocally opposed to the plan in fear of it working in favor of the People Power Party and its candidates in the upcoming local elections.
Allowing Yoon, who represented the People Power Party in the presidential election in March, to fulfill his campaign promise could help ratings for the ruling party while working against those for the Democratic Party.
As the debate remains in place, the People Power Party is expected to engage in talks with National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug to have the budget proposal skip the review process and be considered for a final vote. Park’s term as the head of the legislative branch ends this coming Sunday.
By Ko Jun-tae (firstname.lastname@example.org