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(LEAD) Extra budget will help virus-hit small merchants: finance minister

All News 14:23 September 22, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS remarks, details in paras 5-7)

SEJONG, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Tuesday a fourth supplementary budget would help small merchants navigate through the difficult time as they were hit by a recent resurgence of the new coronavirus.

"The government has actively taken bold measures to overcome the economic crisis," Hong told Yonhap News TV.

Hong said the fourth extra budget will become "welcome rain" for small merchants to overcome this crisis.

Hong made the remarks as the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition People Power Party were expected to vote on the fourth extra budget bill later in the day.

Hong said the government will hold a Cabinet meeting Wednesday to swiftly allocate the budget, if the bill is approved.

Earlier in the day, Democratic Party floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon and People Power Party floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young reached a deal for the bill, giving the green light for the bill's passage.

Hong said the deal was largely in line with the government's budget proposal.

Tuesday is a potential deadline for the government to provide relief handouts to small merchants before the Chuseok holiday that begins Sept. 30, Hong has said.

Earlier this month, the government drew up the fourth supplementary budget worth 7.8 trillion won (US$6.6 billion), 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 would come less than a month after health authorities had 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.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, who doubles as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, speaks at a meeting with economy-related ministers at the government complex in Seoul on Sept. 21, 2020, to discuss innovative growth strategies. (Yonhap)


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