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(LEAD) Moon urges speedy push for expanding quarantine system, employment insurance

Politics 14:14 May 12, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in last 6 paras)

SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in stressed the need Tuesday for meticulous preparation to broaden South Korea's state employment insurance system in phases to cover the entire economically active population.

"It is essential at this time to strengthen the employment safety net and to expand the insurance (coverage) to those in special types of employment and low-wage part-time workers," he said during a weekly Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

He was referring to non-regular workers who are vulnerable, such as insurance agents, golf caddies, freelancers and platform workers. They are among the around 14 million economically active population here not covered by the insurance system.

"We can't achieve the era of the universal insurance system overnight," he pointed out. "We should develop it in stages. In particular, it takes a lot of time and effort to greatly expand employment insurance coverage for the self-employed."

He instructed the relevant authorities to explore realistic ways, based on a mid- to long-term scheme, in consideration of social consensus and how to finance it.

President Moon Jae-in speaks at a Cabinet meeting held at Cheong Wa Dae on May 12, 2020. (Yonhap)

Delivering a speech marking the third anniversary of his inauguration Sunday, the president announced that his government would lay the "cornerstone" for employment insurance for everyone employed. Many agree that the fiscal burden is a key problem to resolve.

Moon also called for speedy actions to bolster the quarantine system amid concerns about a second wave of pandemic in autumn or winter.

His administration plans to upgrade the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) to the Disease Control and Prevention Administration to strengthen its expertise and independence, a move that requires the National Assembly's approval for a revision to legislation on organizing government offices. The sitting KCDC chief, Jeong Eun-kyeong, is widely expected to be promoted to the vice ministerial post of heading the administration.

"The faster, the better," Moon said.

He requested that the upcoming parliament set to open in late May handle the issue as a foremost task.

He also called for an immediate push for a third supplementary budget to help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

On the envisioned Korean version of the New Deal, Moon said it's meant to make fresh large-scale investments in the establishment of digital infrastructure, create jobs and establish the foundation for South Korea to move toward a digital power, Moon said.

He emphasized the importance of timely and bold measures.

President Moon Jae-in (C) chairs a Cabinet session at Cheong Wa Dae on May 12, 2020. (Yonhap)


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