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(LEAD) Frontloading gov't budget on job creation, infra highlighted at meeting

All News 11:40 December 12, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS info throughout)

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- The presidential office, the government and the ruling party on Wednesday agreed on the need to frontload the government's 2019 budget on job creation and infrastructure more aggressively than this year.

Senior officials from Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the ruling Democratic Party (DP) held this year's final consultative meeting to discuss follow-ups to the recent passage of the government's 2019 budget bill.

Last week, the National Assembly approved the government's 469.6 trillion won (US$416.6 billion) budget for next year and the Cabinet on Tuesday endorsed a plan to frontload 281.4 trillion won in the first six months of 2019.

The figure accounts for 70.4 percent of 399.8 trillion won, next year's planned spending based on tax revenue, according to the finance ministry.

"It is hard to expect an optimistic outlook for the economy next year," Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said.

"The government will do its best to prevent the economic downturn and stabilize people's livelihoods by frontloading 70 percent of the budget. We will focus on boosting the number of jobs," he added.

The meeting came as the South Korean economy is losing steam mainly due to tepid domestic demand. The job market remains sluggish amid hikes in the minimum wage.

Among the participants in Wednesday's meeting were new Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and Kim Soo-hyun, new presidential secretary on social affairs.

President Moon Jae-in sacked their predecessors last month amid discord over how to handle the slowing economy.

"I feel heavy responsibility for taking my job at a time of economic difficulties," Hong said. "We will ramp up efforts to boost economic vitality and improve economic fundamentals."

As to a series of infrastructure-related accidents, the participants agreed to draw up measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents in a bid to ease public unease.

A KTX bullet train with 198 passengers that left for Seoul early Saturday morning derailed five minutes after leaving Gangneung Station. The incident injured 16 people aboard with no fatalities.

Last month, a fire broke out in the building of the country's top fixed-line operator KT Corp. in western Seoul, paralyzing its fixed-line, mobile and Internet networks in affected areas for days.

This photo, taken on Dec. 12, 2018, shows senior officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the ruling Democratic Party holding a meeting in Seoul to discuss follow-ups to the passage of the government's 2019 budget bill. (Yonhap)


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