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(LEAD) Finance minister hints at offering 2nd round of virus emergency handouts

All News 20:38 August 24, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 5-7)

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Monday the government will review the need to provide a second round of emergency handouts if the recent resurgence of new coronavirus infections does not slow down.

Hong told lawmakers that the government has not been having "in-depth discussions" over the possibility of offering a second round of emergency handouts.

The government will make a decision on the matter as it is monitoring the resurgence's impact on the economy, Hong said.

If the government decides to offer a second round of emergency handouts, it will have no choice but to sell state debts to cover the cost, Hong said.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun echoed the view, noting the government's available resources are "very limited."

"The government cannot help but be very hesitant as it has no other option but to rely entirely on the issuance of national bonds," Chung said during a parliamentary session.

"We have a very cautious stance," he added.

In May, the government offered relief funds totaling 14.3 trillion won (US$12 billion) to all households as part of efforts to cushion the economic fallout from the new coronavirus.

The amount of the handouts varied from 400,000 won for single-person households to 1 million won for households with four or more members.

South Korea reported 266 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, bringing the nation's total caseload to 17,665, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Although the number of daily new infections fell below 300 for the first time in four days, it marked the 11th consecutive day of a triple-digit increase.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki attends a parliamentary meeting on Aug. 24, 2020. (Yonhap)

kdh@yna.co.kr
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