S.Korea’s ruling party unilaterally advances extra budget bill

South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Saturday unilaterally passed a 14 trillion won ($11 billion) extra budget bill aimed at supporting small businesses hit by Covid-19 curbs through the parliamentary budget committee.

The passage drew angry reactions from the main opposition People’s Power Party (PPP), which has called on the government to draft a far bigger spending plan, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The DP members of the National Assembly Special Committee on Budget and Accounts occupied the committee’s meeting room Friday afternoon.

They convened a session at 2.08 a.m. Saturday and passed the government-proposed budget bill in four minutes.

The party controls 30 of the 50 seats on the special budget committee.

The DP plans to convene a parliamentary plenary session to pass the measure as early as Monday. The party seeks to increase the spending package to more than 16 trillion won.

On Friday, President Moon Jae-in stepped up calls for swift approval of the bill, citing “desperate” hardship facing small merchants hit by the prolonged antivirus restrictions.

Moon’s remarks came amid a tug-of-war between Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and political parties that demand bigger spending from the government.

The DP and the PPP have called for supplementary budgets totalling 35 trillion won and 50 trillion won, respectively.

Hong has been opposing a large expansion of the extra budget, considering its impact on consumer prices and the state bond market.

The ruling party has intensified pressure on the PPP for the approval of the extra budget bill, threatening to pass it unilaterally next week in case they fail to reach an agreement by Monday.

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