By Editor Lee Sam-sun
President Moon Jae-in said at a meeting with his senior secretaries on July 6, “We will make sure that the COVID-19 control-purpose funds will be used expeditiously and effectively to protect jobs, people’s lives and businesses.” Excerpts from his message follow:
The Government’s third supplementary budget proposal was passed in the National Assembly one month after it was submitted. Even though its passage came later than the Government had hoped, it was indeed fortunate that the proposal was processed during the extraordinary session in June.
This emergency budget was put together by taking on debt to help overcome the COVID-19-related national crisis. We will make sure that these funds are used expeditiously and effectively to protect jobs, people’s lives and businesses. It’s regrettable that the opposition parties haven’t joined with us, but I am grateful to the National Assembly for paying special attention to increasing the budget to reflect the recently changing situation and to mitigate the difficulties facing young people.
Cases in point include the 500-billion-won increase in employment security subsidies, which honored the spirit of an agreement among labor, management and the Government through some cuts and readjustment of the Government supplementary budget proposal; the additional 400 billion won in support to lessen hardships facing young people with regard to housing, financing and jobs; and the indirect support of 100 billion won to ease the burden of college tuition on the premise that universities will make their own efforts. To live up to these causes, the Government will disburse the budgeted funds faithfully without the slightest dereliction.
It is now imperative to execute the supplementary budget proposal passed in the National Assembly. The Government has disbursed this year’s fiscal budget as well as the funds from the first and second supplementary budgets in a manner much faster than expected. Notably, as of the end of June, 92.3 percent of the first supplementary budget had been spent and 96 percent of the second supplementary budget has been disbursed, including emergency relief payments. Both figures represent relatively very high rates.
I ask you to execute the third supplementary budget in a speedy manner as well by working more closely with local governments. I also urge you to do everything possible to actively publicize the contents of the passed budget proposal, so no person or company in need is unable to receive aid because they were not informed of such supportive measures.
July’s extraordinary session of the National Assembly begins today. Even though the opening of the 21st National Assembly was delayed and laborious, I hope the ruling and opposition parties could cooperate from now on at least and that the people’s demand for the National Assembly’s normal operation will not be disregarded.
Cooperative governance is all the more critical amid the upheavals caused by the COVID-19 crisis and during the post-COVID-19 era. Countries around the world are struggling to survive in the course of a turbulent global transformation from one era to another, and Korea is no exception. We have to mobilize all of our national capabilities with the realization that our nation’s fate depends on it. In this difficult period of national crisis caused by COVID-19, it is necessary to join hands and cooperate on epidemic prevention, the economy and livelihoods while bearing the people in mind instead of pressing our small differences.
Our goal is to minimize the economic damage caused by COVID-19 and become the first country in the world to overcome the economic crisis. We can set and achieve this goal because our epidemic prevention efforts have been successful. As the people have made epidemic prevention a success, I’m looking forward to the politicians now following suit and fulfilling their role to overcome the crisis together.
Record numbers of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases are being reported worldwide on a daily basis, and there is growing concern over a second wave. Against this backdrop, our country is faring relatively well with the Government, medical professionals and the people doing all we can.
For its part, the National Assembly has a significant role and responsibilities. I ask the Assembly to quickly pass the proposed reorganization bill to upgrade the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Disease Control and Prevention Administration and to fulfill its role in establishing a more robust epidemic prevention system in many aspects, including complementing and overhauling the law and system.
I also ask you to speed up legislation related to the economy and people’s livelihoods. I request that the Assembly first swiftly discuss and pass the bills that were discarded due to the 20th Assembly’s failure to deliberate and enact the relevant law before the term was over.
Real estate policy is now the paramount task for people’s livelihoods. The world is now experiencing an overflow of liquidity, and the benchmark interest rate is the lowest in history. Amid these circumstances, the Government will do all it can to curb real estate speculation and protect genuine would-be homeowners. It will strongly implement countermeasures to stabilize housing for low-income households and young adults. I urge the Assembly to cooperate, too. Regarding the December 16 measures already announced last year and the recent June 17 measures, as well as the new measures soon to be unveiled by the Government, they can only take effect when the Assembly backs them up through swift legislation.
I ask the Assembly to fulfill its basic duty in line with the procedures stipulated in the laws that it itself has set. The legislature needs to abide by the due process that it itself established. Above all, to ensure that the Agency to Investigate High-level Government Corruption – the people’s long-desired wish – is launched in July as legally stipulated, the Assembly has many decisions to make, including recommending the agency’s head. We have officially requested that the Assembly recommend a candidate to head the agency in accordance with the procedures, but it has already fallen significantly behind schedule. I urge the Assembly to recommend a candidate and hold the confirmation hearing within the time limit without further delay.