Moon asks National Assembly to swiftly approve extra budget bill
SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Thursday asked the National Assembly to swiftly approve an extra budget bill designed to help support small merchants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential spokesperson said.
The budget proposal of 14 trillion won (US$11.8 billion) was submitted to the National Assembly last month.
Moon told a meeting with senior aides that "speed is vital" for the extra budget because it aims to provide emergency support to small merchants, according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
Of the proposed budget, 11.5 trillion won will be set aside to support merchants and micro businesses hit by extended antivirus measures.
The government plans to spend 9.6 trillion won to provide 3 million won each to 3.2 million merchants in a bid to help them pay rent and other costs.
Driven by the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, South Korea has set records for daily COVID-19 infections this week.
To efficiently cope with a new wave of omicron, which appears to cause less severe symptoms than previous variants, the government enforced a new virus response system, including an expansion of rapid testing at small hospitals and a reduction of self-isolation periods.
The new system is aimed at minimizing disruptions and focusing on reducing critical cases and deaths.
Moon ordered relevant authorities to make efforts to help people adapt to the new virus response system, Park said.
Major N. Korean websites offline as of Tuesday morning
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