(2nd LD) Moon says gov't open to special 'consolatory money' for Korean people over coronavirus damages
(ATTN: CHANGES headline, photo; UPDATES throughout with Cheong Wa Dae's briefing)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in floated the idea Friday of providing South Korean people with special "consolatory money" once the COVID-19 pandemic is overcome, according to his office.
It was unveiled during his meeting with leaders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) at Cheong Wa Dae.
The president was responding to the proposal of offering another batch of emergency cash handouts to support people and businesses against the fallout of the pandemic, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said.
As the DP chief Lee Nak-yon and floor leader Kim Tae-nyeon raised the issue of envisioned emergency direct financial support, largely aimed at stimulating the economy, Moon replied that the government can even give the people "consolatory money" to help boost both their "morale" and consumption under as South Korea works to get out of the coronavirus crisis, Kang told reporters.
The left-leaning Moon administration and the party have agreed in principle on the necessity of additional cash handouts, which would be the fourth of its kind.
The two sides, however, differ over some details, including the scale of relief money, with a massive amount of extra budgets required once again.
Political controversies go on as well over whether universal support is desirable or a selective, or tailored, approach is better.
Speaking at the outset of the meeting with the DP officials, which pool reporters were allowed to cover, Moon called for financial support that would be "as broad and as deep as possible" to minimize the "blind spots" of beneficiaries. He was apparently referring to the vulnerable.
The president also asked the party to take the nation's fiscal room into account in setting the amount of relevant budgets.
"On the other hand, I would like the party to give consideration to fiscal conditions," he said.
Those critical of the Moon government argue that it's again pushing for a budget-gulping scheme for political gains in advance of the April 7 by-elections to pick new mayors of Seoul and Busan.
The DP has been pushing to create a supplementary budget in order to offer the fourth batch of emergency relief cash handouts.
It marked the first time that the president has invited the whole team of DP leaders to his office since it was elected at a party convention held last August.
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