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(2nd LD) Gov't to offer relief grants of up to 3 mln won to virus-hit small biz

Economy 17:04 December 27, 2020

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; UPDATES with results of ruling party-gov't policy meeting throughout)

SEJONG, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will offer relief grants of up to 3 million won (US$2,700) for small business owners hit by the new coronavirus outbreak, ruling party and government officials said Sunday.

The decision on the country's third round of emergency relief package was reached during a high-level policy discussion between officials from Cheong Wa Dae, the government and the ruling party at the National Assembly.

After the meeting, the ruling party announced the decision to offer 1 million won to all small businesses owners, and provide an additional 1 million won to stores subject to partial restrictions, or an additional 2 million won to businesses forced to shut down entirely due to toughened schemes.

The government's goal is to provide the relief grants within January.

This photo, taken on Dec. 17, 2020, shows few people at Namdaemun Market in central Seoul, one of South Korea's biggest traditional markets, amid the new coronavirus outbreak. (Yonhap)

The move comes as more small merchants and self-employed people are facing the growing burden of paying fixed rent fees amid government orders to suspend their businesses to curb the spread of community transmissions.

The government will also provide low-interest loans to small businesses and allow deferrals of electricity and insurance bills of store owners from January to March.

The government also plans to offer support for medical institutions dealing with the pandemic. Specifically, the government will help provide additional negative pressure room sick beds for hospitals dedicated to treating infectious disease and compensate damage stemming from dealing with the coronavirus.

The ruling party and the government also decided to raise the amount of tax credits offered to landlords who voluntarily reduce rents for small businesses, from the current 50 percent to up to 70 percent for the corresponding discounted amount.

The program will not apply universally to all landlords but only to those with incomes "under a certain level."

The government will also offer grants to contract workers and freelancers in the new relief program. Such workers were eligible to receive 500,000 won in emergency funds in the government's fourth supplementary budget passed earlier this year.

This photo, taken Dec. 17, 2020, shows a sign calling for a cut in rental fees that was put up at an underground shopping mall in Seoul's shopping district of Myeongdong. (Yonhap)


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