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S. Korea to strengthen defense and welfare, boost fiscal health in 2024 budget

All News 10:26 March 28, 2023

SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will focus next year's fiscal policy on better ensuring national security by underpinning defense and public safety, and creating more jobs for young people to prop up the economy, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

They are part of the government's guidelines for the 2024 budget, approved by the Cabinet on the day, which also called for strengthening fiscal soundness amid the rising national debt, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The country is expected to draw up a national budget of around 670 trillion won (US$523.96 billion) for next year, up about 4.8 percent from this year's 638.7 trillion won. It set the growth rate of its total expenditures at 5 percent under the 2022-26 fiscal management plan.

"Next year, the government will make an active investment in strengthening welfare programs for vulnerable people, creating quality jobs for youth and enhancing the implementation of basic functions as a country," Second Vice Finance Minister Choi Sang-dae told reporters.

S. Korea to strengthen defense and welfare, boost fiscal health in 2024 budget - 1

Under the guidelines, the government seeks to increase next year's defense budget to better cope with North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats. Strengthening asymmetrical military capabilities and advancing weapons systems, in particular, will be the government's focus for next year, the ministry said.

It also plans to expand capabilities to prevent and investigate drug-related crimes, as well as digital sexual violence, stalking and other issues.

It will use the budget to establish public safety systems to better prepare for natural and various other kinds of disasters, according to the ministry.

With the goal of creating more decent jobs for young people, the government seeks to expand support for smaller firms through trade financing to help them actively make inroads into overseas markets.

It also vowed to spend more on research and development projects to secure advanced technologies in strategic industries, and on nurturing promising startups to boost exports and maintain economic growth momentum, the ministry said.

In terms of welfare programs, the government pledged to devise "tailored supportive measures" for vulnerable groups, while reducing universal, cash-based subsidies.

The Yoon Suk Yeol government has stressed belt-tightening policies to improve national fiscal soundness following years of expansionary fiscal spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government ministries and agencies will use the guidelines to draw up their spending plans by end-May, which will be submitted to the National Assembly by Sept. 1 after consulting with entities and receiving public input.


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