(ATTN: UPDATES with details of budget in last 3 paras; ADDS photo)
SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) — The National Assembly is set to pass the government’s 2022 budget before Thursday’s deadline after increasing the sum by 3.5 trillion won (US$2.97 billion) to 607.9 trillion won, a ruling party official said.
“The ruling and opposition parties have nearly reached an agreement on tax revenues and expenditures, as well as the amount of net increase,” the Democratic Party official told Yonhap News Agency.
“There are differences over some projects, but we can’t let that stop us from passing the items we have already agreed on,” the official continued. “We will pass the budget by today’s legal deadline.”
The DP and the main opposition People Power Party reached a tentative agreement Wednesday to adjust the government’s budget proposal to increase grants for local governments and compensation for small businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic while reducing the issuance of government bonds, among other things.
But the negotiations hit a snag after the PPP rejected DP demands to increase the defense ministry’s budget for a light aircraft carrier project.
The parliamentary defense committee earlier slashed the budget from 7.2 billion won to 500 million won after the PPP questioned the project’s feasibility and necessity.
“Our party is sticking to passing the government’s original proposal,” the official said of the project. “If a compromise is not reached between the ruling and opposition parties, passing the original proposal is in line with budgetary procedures.”
DP floor leader Rep. Yun Ho-jung said at a party policy coordination meeting the DP has earmarked 68 trillion won worth of support measures for small businesses.
Compensation for business losses was raised from a minimum 100,000 won to 500,000 won, and the total value of local currency coupons to be issued next year was raised from 6 trillion won to 30 trillion won, he said.
The budget for antivirus health care was also increased by around 1.3 trillion won to more than 7 trillion won, according to Yun.