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(LEAD) S. Korea's parliament passes 11 tln won extra budget plan

All News 20:17 September 02, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS photo, details throughout)

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's National Assembly passed the much-awaited extra budget plan on Friday, after ruling and opposition parties finally narrowed their differences on where the money will be spent.

The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea argued for weeks over the 11 trillion won (US$9.82 billion) bill's usage and what endeavors it should support, until they reached a breakthrough compromise after marathon negotiations at late Wednesday night.

The passage comes 38 days since the government first proposed the bill on July 26.

Among the 217 lawmakers who participated the session, 210 voted in favor of the budget plan. The government plans to allocate the fund before Chuseok, the South Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving, which occurs later this month.

Lawmakers gather at Seoul-based National Assembly headquarter to pass the extra budget plan on Sept. 2, 2016. (Yonhap)

Parties agreed to reduce government-led investment, but instead allocate more money on education, healthcare, as well as creating jobs.

Saenuri has been claiming that the budget should put top priority on revitalizing the national economy and creating more jobs, while Minjoo insisted that the budget needs to be allocated to education programs.

The main opposition party also had suggested the budget should include subsidies for South Korean firms based in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a North Korean industrial zone which was shut down earlier this year.

In the belated conclusion, the parties agreed to allocate 200 billion won on improving education facilities, while excluding subsidies for Kaesong-based firms.

South Korea's presidential office has been urging parliament to speed up the negotiations, adding that the budget needs to be implemented in a timely manner to effectively lend support to the economy.

The final passage of the plan was further delayed as the ruling Saenuri Party protested against National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, citing his lack of effort to maintain political neutrality.

Amid the controversy, the parliamentary session was chaired by vice speaker Park Joo-sun of the minor People's Party instead of Chung.

The South Korean government said it will hold a Cabinet meeting later on Friday to finalize the budget plan, chaired by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

The government said the meeting follows Seoul's efforts to promptly allocate the budget to quickly revitalize the national economy.


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