(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, minor edits)
By Kim Deok-hyun
SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- The ruling and opposition parties agreed Sunday on a 62 trillion-won (US$49.4 billion) extra budget aimed mainly at helping pandemic-battered small merchants and others, revising up the original government proposal just days before the local elections.
Kweon Sung-dong, floor leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), said he and his Democratic Party (DP) counterpart, Park Hong-geun, reached the agreement to handle the supplementary budget bill at a parliamentary plenary session to open at 7:30 p.m.
The rival parties had been at loggerheads over details of the government's proposed record extra budget of 59.4 trillion won. The size of the proposed budget was raised as the two parties agreed to increase financial support for pandemic-hit businesses.
The agreement came just three days before the local elections.
The largest-ever extra budget -- the first under the Yoon Suk-yeol government and the eighth during the pandemic -- calls for a 39 trillion won spending plan, including cash handouts to small merchants, and 23 trillion won in grants to regional governments.
Under the agreement, some 3.71 million merchants and micro business owners will be eligible for cash handouts of between 6 million won and 10 million won each.
The PPP and the DP also agreed to provide 2 million won to freelance workers and artists, up from 1 million won in the proposed extra budget.
The extra budget is mainly aimed at supporting pandemic-hit merchants and antivirus efforts and stabilizing people's livelihoods amid high inflation, officials said.
Officials said no state bonds will be issued to finance the extra budget, which will rely on the government's extra revenue.
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