|Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae speaks during a meeting with CEOs of member companies of the national sustainable development business association at the Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas in Gangnam District, Wednesday. Yonhap|
By Ko Dong-hwan
The Ministry of Environment will ask for 695 billion won ($571 million) from state coffers to repair economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as the government plans to dole out a third post-COVID-19 supplementary budget.
Minister Cho Myung-rae said Tuesday the amount aims to rebuild the country's economy in ways that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that can be put into practice no later than the second half of this year.
The stimulus package will cover digitization of environmental watchdogs and monitoring systems, creating new jobs and supporting chemical product manufacturers. But the bulk of the fund, 587 billion won, will go to businesses that strategically embrace low-carbon emissions and green-growth innovation, which have been referred to as "green new deal" businesses.
To achieve the low-carbon structure with the expansion of renewable energy, the ministry said it will invest in electric freight trucks, two-wheel rides and hydrothermal energy using wastewater. Use of renewable energy will also be expanded in environmental infrastructure like sewage disposal plants.
There will be investment in more eco-friendly firms and industries to establish business clusters with "five core industries," including clean air, used electric car batteries, biomaterials and resources recycling. Startups and small and medium firms with innovative green-growth ideas will also receive financial support.
Smart governance of city infrastructure linked to water supplies and factories based on information communication technologies (ICT), the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) will also be supported. This is part of the ministry's move to introduce "smart green city masterplans" and "smart eco-friendly factories."
The ministry's latest budget plan will be submitted to the National Assembly early this month for audit before being finalized. Minister Cho said the third supplementary budget will "enable the green new deal that focused on effective economic recovery and revenue generation in a short term following the aftermath of COVID-19."
Earlier this year, the first and second supplementary budgets were rolled out to counter the pandemic's economic blows. They amounted to 11.7 trillion won and 12.2 trillion won respectively.