President Moon Jae-in on Monday urged the rival parties to end their ongoing impasse in the parliament and quickly start reviewing the government request for a supplementary budget aimed at creating jobs for youth and supporting regions facing economic malaise.
"The supplementary budget will be created by using the 2.6 trillion won (US$2.44 billion) in tax surplus from last year and excess government funds," the president said, stressing the extra budget will not require any increase in tax or additional government debt.
"Not only it will not require issuing government bonds, it will also not use any unappropriated surplus. And therefore, it will be the smallest supplementary budget in more than 10 years," Moon said while talking to his top aides in a weekly meeting at his office Cheong Wa Dae, according to pool reports.
The relatively small amount, however, will mean a world of difference to those facing "extreme difficulties," he insisted.
"The money will not be a small amount, as it will be used only for creating jobs for the youth and for emergency measures in specific areas, including Gunsan and Tongyeong," the president said.
Gunsan was recently hit by a sudden downturn after GM Korea, the South Korean unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors, announced the closure of its production facility there, which previously employed 2,500 local workers. The shutdown is also expected to affect several thousand others working at the automaker's local suppliers.
Moon pointed out the importance of taking emergency measures in a timely manner, again stressing the need for the rival parties to end their standoff and normalize the parliamentary session.
"We believe the extra budget will have a significant impact if executed before too late. I believe the National Assembly will agree on the need for extraordinary measures to address the issue of high youth unemployment rate and for fiscal measures in regions facing extreme difficulties due to industrial restructuring," the president said, according to the pool reports.
As of the end of February, the jobless rate for young people aged between 15 and 29 stood at 9.8 percent, more than twice the 4.6 unemployment rate of the entire population.
The president noted the opposition parties may be reluctant to agree to extra government spending with the local government elections just around the corner, but said it would be too late if the government was forced to wait until after the June elections.
"I ask for the National Assembly to make the right decision based on a just cause, so the bill on the supplementary budget can be approved in the ongoing parliamentary session and the government can swiftly execute the spending," he said.(Yonhap News)