(ATTN: UPDATES with party leaders' agreement in last 3 paras; ADDS photo)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in said Thursday his government has decided to draw up a new supplementary budget, worth 7.8 trillion won (US$6.5 billion), for a "tailored" relief package to help people in urgent need amid the COVID-19 crisis.
He added that 3.8 trillion won of the budget will be used for another round of stimulus cash handouts to benefit a total of 3.77 million people.
Among them, 2.91 million small merchants and self-employed people will receive up to 2 million won each, which would cost 3.2 trillion won in total, he said while chairing the eighth emergency economic council meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon said he knows that the amount of planned financial support is not enough for the scale of damages that they have suffered due to the drawn-out fight against the virus.
He characterized it as "disaster relief tailored to damages" to focus on providing vulnerable people with support "as thick as possible." He added the tailored, or targeted, approach was inevitable this time.
"It is an inevitable choice to maximize the effect with limited budget resources" in a situation in which the government should issue state bonds for the aid program, with no end to the coronavirus spread in sight.
In addition, the government plans to inject 1.4 trillion won in a bid to protect 1.19 million jobs, he said.
All South Koreans, aged 13 or older, will be granted one-off support, even if the amount is "small," for their September communication fees, as their non-contact activities have soared through cooperation with the strict social distancing restrictions, according to the president.
The previous day, the government and the ruling Democratic Party agreed to pay each eligible person the 20,000 won.
Moon stressed the importance of the speedy provision of financial support for those who face a threat to their "survival" and asked the National Assembly to be quick in passing the supplementary budget bill.
He instructed related authorities to immediately begin preparations for the payment of the relief money so that it can be done ahead of the Chuseok holiday, which falls on Oct. 1 this year.
During the 78-minute session, Moon used the word "rapidity" five times, according to his spokesman Kang Min-seok, who later briefed reporters on its results.
Moon was quoted as saying that speedy extra budget spending is the key to meeting the needs of the people.
The president also emphasized that they should be able to receive the relief money conveniently, without having to queue up, just like the previous cash handouts earlier this year, Kang said.
It would mark the country's fourth batch of extra budget this year.
In May, the Moon administration offered "universal" disaster relief money of up to 1 million won for every household, with many receiving it in the form of electronic cash via credit card or bank accounts.
The leaders of the ruling and the main opposition parties agreed to work together to win early parliamentary approval of the extra budget bill.
Rep. Lee Nak-yon, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, and the People Power Party's interim leader Kim Chong-in also pledged to cooperate to "provide emergency assistance handouts to many people before the Chuseok holiday," during a luncheon meeting earlier in the day.
The two leaders vowed to make their best efforts to pass as many bills aimed at supporting the government's anti-coronavirus measures and the people's livelihoods as possible at the plenary parliamentary session slated for Sept. 24, party officials said.
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