Yoon says he respects ministers' suggestion to veto grain bill
SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday he respects the suggestions of Cabinet members to veto a contentious bill requiring government purchase of surplus rice, according to his spokesperson.
During a Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho and Agriculture Minister Chung Hwang-keun briefed the president on the expected harm from the revision to the Grain Management Act passed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly last week.
Yoon was been widely expected to veto the bill, which requires the government to buy excess rice if production exceeds the estimate of demand by 3-5 percent, or if prices fall by 5-8 percent or more compared with the previous year.
Chung said if the revision is enforced, the volume of surplus rice will reach 630,000 tons by 2030 and force the government to purchase it for 1.4 trillion won (US$1.08 billion).
Choo pointed to the large imbalance that will be created between the portion rice accounts for in agricultural production -- 16.9 percent -- and its portion of the government budget -- over 30 percent -- and called for the National Assembly to reconsider the bill.
"I respect the opinions of the Cabinet members," Yoon said, according to presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon.
"I will decide after careful deliberation by collecting opinions through various routes, including consultations between the government and the ruling party," he added.
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