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(2nd LD) Moon urges swift parliamentary approval of budget plan for economic recovery

All News 17:24 December 04, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS 9th para to highlight outcome of the meeting of party floor leaders; ADDS additional details, information in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in called on the parliament to quickly approve the bill on next year's government spending Monday, calling it a prerequisite to maintaining the recent economic recovery momentum.

"It is very deplorable that next year's budget bill did not get processed before its legal deadline expired," the president said while meeting with his top aide at his office Cheong Wa Dae.

The remarks came two days after the opposition-led National Assembly missed the Saturday deadline to vote on the budget plan.

"The government is making all-out efforts to continue the recent improvement in economic conditions and the budget for the new year too is designed to assist such efforts," Moon said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

President Moon Jae-in (R) holds a moment of silence in honor of the people killed in a fishing boat accident before the start of a weekly meeting with his top presidential aides at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Dec. 4, 2017. (Yonhap)

The president highlighted the importance of fiscal spending to continue the upward movement, noting major international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, also supported his administration's fiscal policy.

"There were strong objections from opposition parties, while we were trying to devise a supplementary budget, but the high growth rate in the third quarter has proven the great role played by the supplementary budget," Moon said.

South Korea's gross domestic product is estimated to have expanded 1.5 percent from three months earlier in the July-September period, the fastest on-quarter growth in over seven years, the Bank of Korea said earlier. The third quarter estimate also marks a great acceleration from a 0.6 percent on-quarter increase posted in the April-June period.

The floor leaders of three major parties, including the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, held a meeting earlier in the day for last-minute efforts to narrow the gap over the government budget bill.

Officials from the parties later said the floor leaders had reached an agreement, paving the way for a plenary vote on the budget bill, possibly before the end of the day.

Regarding the recent boat accident, the president called for a thorough review of safety measures to prevent a recurrence of any such tragedy, saying the government is "indefinitely" responsible for the safety of all people.

The call came one day after a 9.77-ton fishing boat capsized in the Yellow Sea after being hit by a large tanker, leaving 13 people dead and two others missing.

"Regardless of any circumstances, the state is ultimately responsible for failing to prevent such an accident and failing to rescue the victims," he said, calling for a complete review of all related safety regulations and government manuals on search and rescue missions.

The weekly meeting itself focused on ways to boost youth employment, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.

The discussions "noted the actual unemployment rate was growing due to a great increase in the number of people in their 20s, despite a continued improvement in the overall employment rate," the spokesman said in a press release.

The government insisted the high youth jobless rate may be temporary, as the number of people aged between 25 and 29 years was expected to plunge by 370,000 in the 2022-2026 period, following an increase of 390,000 over the 2017-2021 period.

Such an outlook, however, may further warrant additional government spending to create more new jobs for the youth, a move previously opposed by the opposition parties.

"Despite such structural difficulties, the government plans to take preemptive measures to remove difficulties facing the youth in finding jobs to help maximize government support they may experience," Park said.



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