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Parties agree to vote on extra budget bill on Aug. 30

All Headlines 19:06 August 25, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- The ruling and opposition parties agreed Thursday to put an extra budget bill to a vote on Aug. 30, party officials said, a welcome boost to the government's efforts to breathe fresh life into the economy.

The agreement came after weeks of bickering over the selection of witnesses for the parliamentary hearings on the restructuring of the financially troubled shipbuilding and shipping industries.

The vice floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party, the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea and the minor opposition People's Party held talks at the National Assembly to reach their agreement over the extra budget bill and the hearings.

The three parties agreed to resume their deliberation on the 11 trillion won (US$9.82 billion) extra budget plan from Friday and hold the hearings from Sept. 8-9.

The major parties also agreed to hold a parliamentary interpellation of the government from Sept. 20-23 and a parliamentary audit into government agencies from Sept. 26 to Oct. 15.

The parties further agreed to hold a hearing early next month on Baek Nam-gi, a farmer who has been in a coma for some nine months since riot police fired a water cannon at him during a massive protest in downtown Seoul. Critics argue that the farmer was hurt due to riot police's "excessive" crackdown.

The parties will further discuss the schedule for the hearings on Baek, but the hearings are expected to be held between Sept. 5 and 7.

Despite these agreements, the parties still failed to finalize the list of witnesses for the hearings on the restructuring of the shipbuilding and shipping industries.

The two opposition parties had initially demanded that Saenuri Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, a former finance minister; An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary for policy coordination; and former Korea Development Bank chairman Hong Ky-ttak appear at the hearings as witnesses.

But the Saenuri Party has opposed calling in Choi and Ahn to testify.

Choi, Anh and Hong are the trio who participated in last year's controversial closed-door meeting at the presidential office in which they allegedly decided to inject massive amounts of taxpayer money into the financially troubled Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. despite allegations of accounting fraud by the shipbuilder.

The opposition parties had called for a parliamentary probe into the meeting, though the participants have denied allegations of wrongdoing regarding the funding scheme for the shipbuilder.


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