SEJONG, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- A fourth supplementary budget worth 7.8 trillion won (US$6.6 billion) is mainly aimed at helping small merchants and self-employed people cushion the economic impact of a recent resurgence of the new coronavirus.
The additional fiscal boost came less than a month after health authorities tightened social distancing rules to contain a new wave of contagion, amid growing concerns that the nation's economic slump may be deeper than expected.
Presiding over an emergency economic council meeting, President Moon Jae-in said the fourth extra budget is a "tailored" relief package for the business sector that suffered the most damage from the virus resurgence.
The resurgence of the new coronavirus has "rapidly put a damper on all economic activities and delayed the pace of an economic rebound," Moon said.
In particular, small merchants and self-employed people have felt the pinch of the elevated social distancing rules because they are suffering from lost income and high rental costs, Moon said.
Since late last month, restaurants and smaller eateries in the greater Seoul area have been required to operate until 9 p.m., and only takeaway and delivery are permitted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
For franchise coffee chains, bakeries and ice cream parlors, only takeout and delivery have been permitted regardless of operating hours.
It marked the first time in 59 years for the South Korean government to allocate four extra budgets in a single fiscal year.
About half of the fourth extra budget, or 3.8 trillion won, will be spent for small merchants and self-employed people.
Of that, the government plans to provide 3.2 trillion won in cash handouts to 2.91 million small merchants and self-employed people.
Another 1.4 trillion won will be used to help virus-hit companies maintain 1.19 million jobs, Moon said.
In May, the government offered some 1.5 trillion won in subsidies to temporary or freelance workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The fourth extra budget will give more subsidies to temporary or freelance workers.
As people go contactless in the wake of the pandemic, the government will give a certain amount of money to help people aged 13 or older cut costs of their telecommunication fees.
The government is expected to submit the fourth extra budget bill to the National Assembly on Friday.
Moon urged lawmakers to swiftly approve the bill to help the government implement the budget ahead of the Chuseok holiday season that begins on Sept. 30.
Pounded by the coronavirus outbreak, the nation's economy has plunged into a recession as its gross domestic product shrank 3.3 percent in the second quarter after a 1.3 percent on-quarter retreat three months earlier.
Earlier this week, Korea Development Institute, a state-run think tank, downgraded the nation's economic growth outlook to a contraction of 1.1 percent this year, a sharp downward revision from a 0.2 percent expansion in its May forecast.
So far, South Korea has pledged 277 trillion won in stimulus packages to help the nation's economy recover from the pandemic.
Japanese Embassy sends back Moon's New Year gift over Dokdo image box
(LEAD) Daily cases bounce to over 7,000 for 1st time in month amid omicron woes
Auto exports up 8.6 pct in 2021 on popularity of eco-friendly cars
Moon holds phone talks with Abu Dhabi crown prince, voices condolences over attack victims
23 shippers fined 96.2 bln won for collusion on freight rates
U.S., 7 other nations urge full implementation of N. Korea sanctions
'Kim Ji-young, Born 1982,' most-sold S. Korean literary book overseas
(3rd LD) N. Korea says it confirmed accuracy of tactical guided missiles in test-firing
(LEAD) Daily cases jump to over 5,000 for 1st time in 20 days amid omicron woes
(LEAD) Moon calls for swift shift to new response measures to cope with omicron
(LEAD) New COVID-19 cases above 7,000 for 3rd day amid persistent omicron fears
New COVID-19 cases above 7,000 for 3rd day amid persistent omicron fears
Biz hour curbs cause largest drop in in-person spending among all measures: BOK report
Moon calls for swift shift to new response measures to cope with omicron