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Rival parties fail to narrow down differences on extra budget bill

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Members of the parliament subcommittee on budget and accounts attend a meeting for a review of an extra budget bill at the National Assembly in Seoul, Monday. Joint Press Corps
Members of the parliament subcommittee on budget and accounts attend a meeting for a review of an extra budget bill at the National Assembly in Seoul, Monday. Joint Press Corps

Rival parties on Wednesday failed to reach an agreement on a government-proposed extra budget bill designed to support the pandemic-hit small merchants despite calls to swiftly pass the spending plan.

The representatives of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) on the parliamentary budget committee met for consultations, but their talks broke down only after 10 minutes as the two sides ran in parallel over the size of the supplementary budget.

The government earlier proposed an extra budget of 59.4 trillion won ($47 billion), with 36.4 trillion won set aside for compensating losses of small merchants hit by social distancing restrictions.

Under the proposal, some 3.7 million merchants and micro business owners will be eligible for cash handouts of between 6 million won and 10 million won each.

While the PPP backed the government's plan of 36.4 trillion won, the DPK has been demanding that the budget allocated for small businesses should be larger.

The DPK reportedly proposed spending of over 50 trillion won for small merchants, which includes a budget for retroactive coverage of their losses and emergency loan programs.

The two parties, however, are expected to continue negotiations under the table as they earlier targeted to pass the bill no later than this month.

President Yoon Suk-yeol last week called on the National Assembly to swiftly pass the bill. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo also pledged that the government will swiftly execute the extra budget once the National Assembly approves it. (Yonhap)




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