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Government vows to expand welfare budget

Finance Ministry, ruling party plan expansive budget for next year

Aug. 18, 2017 - 17:17 By Bae Hyun-jung
The government and ruling party on Friday vowed to draw up an expansive budget for next year in order to pursue President Moon Jae-in’s welfare programs, while cutting down costs in conventional land development projects.

Representatives from the ruling liberal Democratic Party of Korea and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance sat together at the National Assembly to share their views on how the state operation budget should be allocated.

“We have been drawing up the budget upon the belief that the financial sector should play an active role in order to realize (the president’s) state affairs visions,” said Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon.

“For this, it is inevitable that an all-out fiscal restructuring should be carried out.”

The government’s priority is to boost employment, improve the people’s livelihoods, and to strengthen the nation’s growth potential, the minister added.

President Moon’s state operating blueprint, which pivots on extensive welfare, has been calling for a budget increase in a number of state pensions and subsidies.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon (far left) speaks Friday at a government and ruling party meeting at the National Assembly. (Yonhap)

“Considering the recent security situations, the national defense budget should be increased and the soldiers’ wages pulled up to a half-level of the minimum wage by 2022,” said Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, chief policymaker of the party.

The party also urged the government to allocate more money to veterans’ allowance, childcare subsidies and support for small-sized enterprises which are to face the consequences of the increased minimum wage from next year.

To cover for the fiscal margin, the ruling party called for a cut in projects not directly connected to people’s livelihoods, especially the land development businesses initiated by previous administrations.

“Spot development projects are representative cases of accumulated evils as they not only lead to environmental destruction, but also deter the effective distribution of resources,” said Floor Leader Rep. Woo Won-shik.

Policymaker Kim also agreed that the dubious development projects which were launched under former President Park Geun-hye and her embattled aide Choi Soon-sil should be ruled out to give way to Moon’s state affairs agenda.

“The keynote of the Moon Jae-in government’s fiscal operation is to boost employment and to advance the people’s livelihoods,” he said.

“By so readjusting the state budget, we shall revive the domestic economy, improve distribution and eventually steer the nation’s economic growth.”

The four major political parties on Thursday agreed to listen to the government speech on budget plans on Nov. 1 and to take up the bill during a plenary session on Dec. 1.

By Bae Hyun-jung (