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All policy options on table to resolve chronic youth unemployment: finance minister

All Headlines 18:37 March 13, 2018

SEJONG, March 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's chief economic policymaker said Tuesday that the government will roll out a set of measures to resolve the chronic unemployment of young people.

"We can't rule out the formation of an extra budget," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon told reporters at an economy-related ministers meeting. "All policy options are being examined to help resolve young people's dire job situation."

The minister said earlier the government may consider granting an allowance to young jobseekers and creating an extra budget, as well as introducing tax incentives or subsidies for young jobseekers, and it will mobilize all the tools at its disposal to create more quality jobs.

Kim hinted at making use of a supplementary budget to handle chronic youth unemployment. "If we need an extra budget, we should speed up our moves (to create it)." He stopped short, however, of revealing the size of the proposed extra budget.

In January, President Moon Jae-in called for an all-out effort to create new quality jobs for young people and said the country's high youth jobless rate is a national disaster.

Creating quality jobs, especially for the young, was one of Moon's key election pledges. The president has promised to add 810,000 new jobs in the public sector during his single five-year term, which ends in May 2022.

Moon has had several display panels installed in his office to provide daily data on the country's jobless rate and other job-related developments.

As of the end of December, the unemployment rate for people between 15 and 29 years of age came to 9.2 percent, nearly three times higher than the overall jobless rate of 3.3 percent.

Market sources estimate that the extra budget may reach up to 15 trillion won (US$13.9 billion), given tax revenue and rolled-over tax income.

Kim said the government will make a concerted effort to deal with the U.S.'s hefty steel tariffs.

"The government will mobilize all viable options to handle the issue," Kim said.

On Sunday, Kim sent a letter to his U.S. counterpart to urge Washington to exempt South Korea from stiff steel tariffs that could seriously impact exports.

The letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed concerns over the move to impose 25 percent tariffs on imported steel products. South Korea is the third largest exporter of steel products to the U.S. after Canada and Brazil.

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a measure authorizing the hefty duties to be placed on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, although he excluded Canada and Mexico.

Australia may also be exempted from paying extra tariffs on its steel products, as the world's No. 1 economy left open the possibility of other countries friendly to the United States being granted an exemption. The stiff tariffs will take effect 15 days after March 8 (U.S. time).

Kim is expected to meet the treasury secretary at the G20 finance ministers meeting slated for March 19-20 in Argentina. At the upcoming meeting the two officials are expected to touch on such issues as tariffs and other outstanding matters that affect both countries.

Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon (C) speaks during a press meeting in the administrative city of Sejong, on March 13, 2018. (Yonhap)

sam@yna.co.kr
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