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(LEAD) Gov't, ruling party agree on communication fee subsidy for people in stimulus package

All News 17:08 September 09, 2020

(ATTN: COMBINES story slugged communication fee-govt subsidy; UPDATES with tax measure; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo, byline)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- The government and the ruling Democratic Party (DP) agreed Wednesday to include a 20,000-won (US$16.80) subsidy for ordinary people in the planned emergency stimulus package.

The party announced the scheme after its leaders had a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae.

The DP requested that the government offer one-off support of 20,000 won to all people aged 13 or older nationwide, and the government has decided to actively push for the measure, according to the party's spokesman Choi In-ho. The support is meant to help them pay their monthly communication expenses, including smartphone service fees.

The party cited sharp hikes in the communication fee burden of the public due to increased contact-free activities in the midst of the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak.

President Moon Jae-in (R) speaks at the start of a meeting with ruling Democratic Party leaders at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

DP leader Lee Nak-yon was quoted as saying during the Cheong Wa Dae session, "Although the amount is not large, the communication expense support could be a comfort, even a little, to the people."

The subsidy would be funded by the envisioned fourth supplementary budget of the year to finance another round of cash handouts for people in need amid the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Lee Nak-yon (2nd from R), head of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

Moon plans to chair an emergency economic council meeting on Thursday, in which the exact scale of the extra budget and the relief money payment plan will be fixed.

The party's floor leader Kim Tae-nyeon also suggested the extension of temporary tax benefits, which expired in June, for those who voluntarily lower commercial building rents for tenants.

The president responded positively and instructed his Cheong Wa Dae aides to consider the issue, according to the DP spokesman.

Starting the meeting, meanwhile, Moon stressed the importance of cooperative politics to overcome the ongoing crisis.

He noted the country and the people's livelihoods are in a "serious, grave" situation due to the recent resurgence of coronavirus infections.

"I think that cooperative politics has become more important than at any other time in the past," he said in his opening remarks, which pool reporters and cameras were allowed to cover.

There has been no time like now when the people "desperately desire" the politics of cooperation between ruling and opposition parties, and also between the government and the National Assembly, Moon added.

He requested the DP with 176 seats of the 300-member parliament play a "catalyst" role for cooperation-based politics.

President Moon Jae-in's meeting with a group of ruling Democratic Party officials is under way at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

On the relationship between his administration and the party, Moon said it is so good that it can be considered "almost fantastic," and the DP chief replied that the two share the same "fate."

Lee asked the president to push for meetings with opposition party leaders in addition to the effort to resume the operation of the standing consultation council among the government and major political parties.

"One-on-one talks are good as well," Lee said, apparently suggesting Moon have a bilateral meeting with Kim Chong-in, caretaker leader of the main opposition People Power Party.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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