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(LEAD) Gov't doubles state aid for disaster relief

Politics 10:39 August 12, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in last 7 paras; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's government on Wednesday decided to double the state aid for disaster relief and recovery, as the unusually prolonged rainy season has wrecked havoc on houses, farm land and infrastructure nationwide.

The decision was made during a meeting among the government, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and Cheong Wa Dae at the National Assembly.

"In the case of a death, state support will be raised to 20 million won (US$16,880) from the current 10 million won," said DP spokesman Kang Hoon-sik during a briefing, adding a flood victim will get 2 million, up from the original 1 million won. The current disaster aid scheme was drawn up in 1995.

Discussion on a potential supplementary budget, which the ruling party toyed with, has been deferred to a later time, as the current budget is deemed sufficient to cover recovery efforts.

A house is destroyed by torrential rains in Namwon, North Jeolla Province, on Aug. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

"The central government has 3 trillion won in budget, with some in reserve, while provincial governments have around 2.4 trillion won," Kang elaborated. "So it is enough to cover 500 billion won, the estimated cost needed for recovery."

The government is working on swiftly expanding the special disaster areas by streamlining the bureaucratic process, he said, beyond the seven cities and counties designated last week.

The seven are Anseong of Gyeonggi Province; Cheorwon of Gangwon Province; Chungju, Jecheon and Eumseong of North Chungcheong Province; and Cheonan and Asan of South Chungcheong Province.

"Damage inspections have been launched in Gwangju, North Jeolla Province and South Gyeongsang Province," he said, adding the results will be made within this week.

Special disaster areas get state support that can cover up to 80 percent of the expenditures needed for damage recovery. Flood victims in the areas receive state aid for livelihood costs and reductions in utility bills, health insurance premiums and other public charges, as well as exemptions from reserve forces training and other military duties.

Meanwhile, the government plans to start working on river maintenance to alleviate flooding and help land drainage.

Record-setting downpours have left 42 people killed or missing. More than 7,200 people have been displaced.

Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan (C) speaks during a government meeting to discuss state aid for flood recovery efforts, at the National Assembly in Seoul on Aug. 12, 2020. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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