The South Korean government has finalized plans for the fourth extra budget of the year to help cushion the fallout from the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
The 6-and-a-half billion U.S. dollar budget will be used to provide support for the hardest hit industries and people.
For more, we’re joined on the line by our presidential correspondent Kim Min-ji.
Min-ji, give us the details.
The government’s fourth extra budget has been set at 7.8 trillion won, or roughly 6.6 billion U.S. dollars.
President Moon Jae-in unveiled the specifics during a session of the government’s emergency economic council this morning.
The budget will be used to finance measures that provide tailored support focused on the vulnerable, including the unemployed, young people, freelancers, those on low-incomes, merchants and the self-employed.
It will be financed through the issuance of state bonds.
It’s the first time in almost six decades that the government has drawn up four extra budgets in one fiscal year.
The government hopes this budget can be implemented before the Chuseok holiday, which begins in late September this year.
The prolonged pandemic has without a doubt taken a toll on the economy and people’s livelihoods. Minji, what are the measures that the government plans to implement with this budget?
Well, Mark, breaking it down, about half of it will be used to provide support for the self-employed and merchants that have been hit due to the resurgence of COVID-19.
That’ll include cash payments of up to about 17-hundred U.S. dollars, for some 2.9 million people.
And about 1 billion dollars will be used for employment stabilization funds to maintain over one million vulnerable jobs, such as freelancers and temporary workers.
Some 880-thousand people will benefit from this measure.
The government will also be using part of the budget to ease the burden of childcare on families.
It will extend childcare vacation periods, as well as increase the number of households eligible for childcare allowances.
The extra budget will also be used to give South Koreans aged 13 and over a one-off discount of 20-thousand won, or about 17 U.S. dollars, off their phone bills to provide some consolation to people enduring the pandemic.
President Moon noted that the support may not be enough for those worst affected, but stressed that the choices made aim to “maximize the effects” of the limited budget.
Back to you, Mark.