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(LEAD) Offline applications begin for virus relief fund

All News 14:27 May 18, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 9-10)

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- The application process for the government's emergency fund to ease economic pain from the novel coronavirus became available offline Monday morning.

Applicants can now visit community service centers or banks to apply for the money regardless of the forms of the state aid, be it credit or debit card points, regional gift certificates or prepaid cards. For the last week, only online applications were allowed.

Those who apply for the last two forms of the payment can get them immediately on-site, while credit or debit card points arrive within two days after the application is done.

To prevent the centers and banks from being overcrowded, a visit is limited to a designated date depending on the last digit of one's birth year.

For example, those whose last digit of birth year is one or six are eligible to complete offline applications Monday.

Some provincial governments have also opened a web page dedicated for receiving applications.

The undated photo shows a masked bypasser looking at an information poster about the government's emergency relief fund. (Yonhap)

Late last month, the National Assembly approved an extra budget bill focused on the payments of the unprecedented relief money to all the nation's 21.71 million households to lessen the financial strain brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the scheme, the government provides 1 million won each to households with four or more members, 800,000 won to three-person households, 600,000 won to two-person households and 400,000 won to single-person households.

According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on Monday, 8.9 trillion won, or 63 percent of the total budget, has been paid out to 14.26 million households.

Cash payments to 2.86 million households that are in the lowest income bracket have mostly been completed. The group, which accounts for some 13 percent of the total, started receiving the first batch of the state aid May 4.

People can donate all or part of the relief money. Households failing to apply for the emergency relief funds within three months will be regarded as donors to the state.

Also, the money should be spent by Aug. 31, or it will also be deemed a donation. It can't be used for online shopping, at large-scale supermarkets and entertainment establishments. It can't be used to pay taxes.

Regional gift certificates have, in theory, a five-year expiry date, but the government advises people to use it by Aug. 31 in order to revive the local economy battered by the pandemic.

Online applications, which started last Monday with limitations on applicable dates, became available at any time.


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