South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday pleaded for speedy approval for an 11.2 trillion won ($10 billion) supplementary budget devoted to create jobs and help low-income class amid worsening unemployment in his first address to the National Assembly, which was unprecedentedly fast for a president just a month in office.
“Desperate and urgent need of a supplementary budget” is why he was addressing the National Assembly “unusually fast” for a president who had started office without a transition period upon elected through a May 9 snap election, he said.
Moon who had vowed to communicate closely with the people and legislative explained the design and outline of the budget added to the original 400.7 trillion fiscal spending for this year in a rare PowerPoint presentation at the legislative podium televised live.
“Lack of jobs is the fundamental reason why lives are so hard,” he said.
“We need a grand shift in the economic paradigm by promoting growth through increases in jobs instead of waiting for jobs to increase as the output of growth,” he said.
“Job policy is a national agenda that both the private and government must work on together. But the public-sector must take the initiative for fast effect,” he said.
Korea’s jobless number is at record high with youth unemployment hovering at 11.2 percent. In reality, one out of four young people is without a job. Inequalities in income and wealth are the worst after the United States among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“Timing is important in the economy. If we leave the unemployment problem unattended, we could face an economic crisis,” he said.
“We cannot expect to resolve the problem at once, but we must do whatever we can right away…I will make sure every cent goes to making a job. The government will concentrate all policy capabilities on creating jobs,” he said.
Instead of the usual public-sector spending on creating jobs through pork-barrel projects, the budget would go to increasing lasting public jobs in the much-needed areas of fire-fighting and rescue squad and social welfare workers. Spending would also be increased to help youth startups and incentives to companies hiring young people.
“We hope our endeavors will help to prime the pump in jobs in the private sector,” he said.
Another 3.5 trillion won is proposed to finance local governments in their individual efforts to increase hiring, 2.3 trillion won to aid housing, education and health care for the low-income class, and 1.2 trillion won to improve working conditions for merchants, small- and mid-sized companies.
Meanwhile, floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties except for the main opposition Liberal Korea Party have embarked on review of the government’s budget proposal.
By Kang Gye-man
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]