Presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-myung, presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, apologized to small business owners and self-employed people who sustained losses from the social distancing measures, drawing a clear line with the Moon Jae-in administration’s quarantine policies.
“The first duty of the state is to protect the lives and safety of the public, and protecting the lives of the people from infectious disease is also a part of the state’s responsibility,” Lee said in a televised debate among key four presidential candidates over the topic on the response to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. “Unfortunately, small business owners and self-employed people took on a lot of responsibility instead.”
Lee said the state should now take responsibility.
“I will compensate self-employed people, small business owners and courier workers for all the past losses they sustained,” he said. “Future losses will also be compensated and supported with 100 percent certainty.”
Lee’s remarks are in line with a surprise press conference he held related to the COVID-19 response on Monday morning. At the meeting Lee said the government would take over the bad debt caused by COVID-19 and write it off. He also made pandemic-related pledges, such as providing 100,000 won in support for at-home care and applying flexibility to school in March.
The People Power Party’s Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to support the poor caused by the pandemic.
“If we do not protect the poor now, it will cost a huge amount of welfare money,” Yoon said. “We will surely and promptly compensate for the loss as a concept of compensation for losses under the Constitution.”
Yoon said the government should pay attention to ensure financial soundness as a lot of money was spent on the monetary expansion policy to respond to COVID-19.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com