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(LEAD) Rival parties agree to vote on disaster relief funds Wednesday

Politics 18:05 April 27, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in 6th para and last three paras)

SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's rival parties said Monday they have agreed to vote this week on the provision of disaster relief funds to all households to minimize the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) agreed to hold a plenary session of the National Assembly on Wednesday to handle this year's second supplementary budget bill centered on the nationwide payment of disaster relief money totaling 1 million won (US$814) each for households of four persons.

The agreement was announced after a meeting of the two parties' first vice floor leaders at the National Assembly.

Rep. Kim Jae-won (L), head of the National Assembly's Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, meets with senior lawmakers of the ruling and main opposition parties in Seoul on April 27, 2020, to discuss matters related to the provision of disaster relief funds. (Yonhap)

Earlier in the day, President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun met at Cheong Wa Dae and agreed to devote all efforts to provide the emergency disaster relief funds as soon as possible.

The Moon administration announced at the end of March that it would grant the direct financial support to all families here except the top 30 percent by income.

The government soon submitted a 7.6 trillion-won extra budget bill to the National Assembly to fund the program. In addition, local autonomous governments were asked to shoulder a total of 2.1 trillion won under the scheme to dole out one-off disaster aid to the bottom 70 percent of households.

The ruling Democratic Party has proposed expanding the scope of beneficiaries to all households amid concerns about the time and cost necessary for administrative procedures to sort out those who are eligible.

The shift to the universal disaster aid handout will require an additional 4.6 trillion won, and 3.6 trillion won of the money will be raised by issuing government bonds. The remaining 1 trillion won is to be funded through the readjustment of existing government budget plans.

The rival parties agreed to iron out their differences on the issuance of government bonds and contributions from local governments before Wednesday's plenary session.

If the bill passes the Assembly this week as planned, the payment of disaster relief funds is expected to be completed in May. Under the budget bill, a one-person household is to receive 400,000 won, while two-person and three-person households are to be paid 600,000 won and 800,000 won, respectively.


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