Mi­nor par­ties op­pose huge spend­ing bill

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Park Ji-won jw­[email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

The rul­ing and main op­po­si­tion par­ties said Thurs­day they would pass the 2019 bud­get bill, af­ter agree­ing to cut spend­ing on in­ter-Korean eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion and job cre­ation for young peo­ple, de­spite op­po­si­tion from the mi­nor po­lit­i­cal par­ties. These joined hands to con­tinue to protest the bud­get un­til the adop­tion of their elec­toral re­form pro­posal.

The Demo­cratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Korea Party (LKP) agreed to re­duce the gov­ern­ment’s record 470.5 tril­lion-won ($426.6 bil­lion) bud­get by 5.2 tril­lion won. In­stead of spend­ing on in­ter-Korean projects and job cre­ation, the two par­ties agreed to add 3.1 tril­lion won to so­cial over­head cap­i­tal (SOC) projects and lo­cal busi­nesses.

The move came af­ter they ini­tially failed to nar­row their dif­fer­ences on the bud­get. The mi­nor op­po­si­tion par­ties called for the in­tro­duc­tion of elec­toral re­form along with pas­sage of the bud­get bill, while the two largest par­ties re­mained silent on this. The bud­get re­view dead­line for next year had al­ready ex­pired last Sun­day due to in­ter­nal fight­ing among the par­ties.

The fund for in­ter-Korean eco- nomic projects, which was orig­i­nally 1.97 tril­lion won, was re­duced to 990 bil­lion won, dou­ble that of this year.

They also agreed to cut 600 bil­lion won spend­ing on job cre­ation from the orig­i­nally al­lo­cated 23.5 tril­lion won; and pledged to cut 3,000 new civil ser­vice re­cruits from a planned 36,000.

The key con­tro­versy is an ex­pected 4 tril­lion won tax short­fall in rev­enue from the orig­i­nal bud­get bill, which the two par­ties agreed to fill by is­su­ing state bonds.

The gov­ern­ment will fill the deficit by re­pay­ing debt within this year. For next year, the is­suance of state bonds will be lim­ited to 1.8 tril­lion won.

Three mi­nor op­po­si­tion par­ties, the Bare­un­mi­rae Party, Party for Democ­racy and Peace and Jus­tice Party pledged to protest the de­ci­sion.

Sohn Hak-kyu and Lee Jeong-mi, lead­ers of Bare­un­mi­rae Party and Jus­tice Party, be­gan an in­def­i­nite hunger strike Thurs­day call­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of an elec­toral re­form sys­tem that de­cides par­lia­men­tary seats ac­cord­ing to the pro­por­tion of win­ning votes.

The three par­ties crit­i­cized the two par­ties’ closed-door “po­lit­i­cal col­lu­sion,” which they claim pro­tects the largest par­ties’ vested in­ter­ests.

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