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Main opposition party opposes extra budget proposal

2018/04/06 16:08

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SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Friday renewed its opposition to the government's proposal for an additional budget worth 3.9 trillion won (US$3.69 billion) aimed largely at creating jobs for young people.

The party called it a political move to win the hearts of young voters ahead of the June local elections, rejecting the government's claim that it is meant to preemptively address deepening concerns about the country's high youth unemployment.

"The proposal for the (nearly) 4 trillion won extra budget is an apparent attempt to mask its policy failure with taxpayers' money and appease young people with taxpayers' money ahead of the local elections," Rep. Ham Jin-gyu, the LKP policy chief, said during a party meeting.

"We think (the government) should first apologize for the failure of its youth job creation policy," he added.

This photo, taken March 22, 2018, shows Rep. Ham Jin-gyu, the policy chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaking during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo, taken March 22, 2018, shows Rep. Ham Jin-gyu, the policy chief of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaking during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The passage of the spending proposal requires consent from a majority of the lawmakers present for a vote in which at least half of all 293 lawmakers are present. The ruling Democratic Party holds only 121 parliamentary seats and needs opposition parties' backing for the budget approval.

LKP Rep. Choo Kyung-ho argued that the government proposal conflicts with the National Finance Act, which stipulates an extra budget can be drawn up in such cases as massive natural disasters, economic recession, mass unemployment and crucial changes in cross-border relations.

"That is a proposal that does not meet the legal requirements," he said.

The government and ruling party, however, argue that the current unemployment problem, if not properly handled, could lead to a "catastrophic situation." They stressed the need for a "timely" injection of public funds to address it.

"We call for a prompt passage of the proposal, as it is aimed at addressing the unemployment issue, supporting young people suffering from the industrial restructuring and breathing new life in the local economy," Choo Mi-ae, the ruling party's leader, said.

"To maximize the effect of the extra budget, the timing is crucial," she added.

Choo Mi-ae, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on April 6, 2018. (Yonhap) Choo Mi-ae, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on April 6, 2018. (Yonhap)

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