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(LEAD) Moon requests parliamentary support for extra budget plan

All News 14:24 March 02, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more remarks, details from 6th para)

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in asked the National Assembly on Tuesday to help the government promptly provide those in need with South Korea's largest-ever emergency cash handouts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He requested "swift discussion and consultation by the National Assembly so that the fourth batch of disaster relief money can be paid as early as possible," while presiding over a weekly Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

The government and the ruling Democratic Party have agreed to offer 19.5 trillion won (US$17.4 billion) in targeted cash aid for the vulnerable.

The envisioned package requires a 15 trillion-won extra budget, with 4.5 trillion won to be used from this year's budget.

It reflects the government's "resolve to overcome the crisis," Moon said.

President Moon Jae-in makes opening remarks during a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on March 2, 2021. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in makes opening remarks during a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on March 2, 2021. (Yonhap)

He pointed out that it is the largest-scale direct cash aid of its kind intended to support the troubled brackets in a "broad and deep" manner, with special attention paid to minimizing "blind spots."

The government formally endorsed the budget scheme during the Cabinet session with a plan to submit it to the parliament Thursday.

Moon also held out expectations for the country's vaccination program that got under way last week.

It marks the first step in a journey toward the recovery of people's normal daily lives, Moon said. South Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November.

In particular, he stressed, the government would be responsible for the safety of whatever the vaccine is. He called on media and political circles to be wary of "fake news" related to vaccines in use here.

The president, meanwhile, mentioned the passage of some "meaningful" bills by the parliament last week.

He cited the revision to a law to provide legal grounds for systematic compensation for the victims of the 1948 bloody uprising on Jeju Island and bereaved families. It is officially named the Special Act on Discovering the Truth of the Jeju Apr. 3 Incident and Restoring the Victims' Honor.

The tragedy occurred amid deepening ideological divisions on the peninsula ahead of the Korean War.

"It's the natural duty of a state when dealing with people who have been unfairly victimized to find the truth, restore their honor and compensate them for damages," he emphasized.

Moon described the ratification of core International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions on workers' rights and forced labor as very meaningful as well.

"It would enhance South Korea's international stature in terms of the labor rights," he said. "I hope that (public) interest in the labor rights of workers with new types of jobs, which have emerged of late, will increase."


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