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S. Korea may draw up 4th extra budget if distancing rules raised to top level

All News 12:00 August 28, 2020

SEJONG, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will review the need to draw up the fourth extra budget if the nation raises social distancing rules to the highest level amid a resurgence of the new coronavirus, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki has said.

Hong made the remarks at a meeting with reporters Thursday when he gave a briefing on next year's budget proposal.

With daily virus infections surging to triple digits, South Korea raised the virus curbs to Level 2 in the three-tier system earlier this month, banning indoor meetings of 50 or more people.

There have been growing calls for implementing the Level 3 rules, under which gatherings of 10 or more people, in-person classes at schools and sports events will be prohibited.

Whether to raise the distancing rules to Level 3 will be a "big variable" for the government to consider drawing up the fourth extra budget, Hong said.

"If social distancing rules are raised to Level 3, its economic impact will become more serious," Hong said.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (C) speaks during the 15th emergency meeting of economy-related ministers at the government complex in Seoul on Aug. 27, 2020, to tackle economic issues amid the pandemic. (Yonhap)

Previously, Hong had ruled out the possibility of the fourth extra budget.

In July, the National Assembly passed the third extra budget worth 35.1 trillion won (US$29.5 billion) to mitigate the economic fallout of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The South Korean economy contracted 3.3 percent in the second quarter from a quarter earlier, the slowest on-quarter growth since the first quarter of 1998, when it contracted 6.8 percent.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently predicted South Korea's economy will contract 0.8 percent in 2020 from a year earlier.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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