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Lee insists again on universal COVID-19 relief grants

All News 16:17 November 07, 2021

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Democratic Party's presidential nominee, Lee Jae-myung, on Sunday insisted again on giving additional universal COVID-19 relief grants, saying excess tax revenue is expected to amount to 40 trillion won (US$34 billion).

"Is it right for the people of a well-off nation to be poor?" Lee said in a Facebook posting, after his opposition rival, Yoon Seok-youl of the People Power Party, voiced opposition to offering universal relief grants.

"The real gross domestic product (GDP) of the third quarter rose about 8 trillion won compared with the end of 2019 right before the pandemic, but household consumption expenditures dropped by more than 5.3 trillion won," Lee said.

"This means that the country is getting richer, but people are closing their wallets," he said. "In addition, excess tax revenue this year is expected to amount to about 40 trillion won, which means the government warehouse is filling up."

In recent weeks, Lee has said the government should dole out additional cash handouts to all people, claiming the relief amount is too small considering the nation's GDP and in comparison with other countries.

He called for providing an additional 300,000-500,000 won (US$250-$425) per person at least, as the government is expected to log a larger-than-expected surplus in tax revenue this year.

But the government showed a negative reaction to Lee's calls.

Prime Minister Kim said last week the government cannot afford another round of universal COVID-19 relief grants, emphasizing the most urgent task for now is to compensate the self-employed and small business owners suffering from the pandemic.

Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a ceremony to launch his campaign office at a gymnasium in Seoul on Nov. 2, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)


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