Tue. May 24th, 2022

Restaurants, bars and gyms have been hit hard by a business check-in rule that will remain in place until at least February 6th.

South Korea on Friday unveiled a supplementary budget of 14 billion won ($ 11.75 billion) to self-employed and small businesses that have been hit hard by extensive COVID-19 curbs.

About 11.5 billion won will be used to help small business owners and compensate for their losses caused by the expansion of virus-related measures, the finance ministry said.

Another 1.5 trillion won was earmarked to secure COVID-19 treatment pills for 400,000 people and 25,000 hospital beds.

The other 1 trillion won will be used as contingency reserves if the Omicron coronavirus variant spreads further and needs more support.

To fund the extra stimulus, the government will issue 11.3 trillion won in treasury bonds and use 2.7 trillion won from public fund reserves.

Presidential election

The extra budget, which will be tabled in parliament on Monday, comes at a time when the ruling Democratic Party is struggling to regain public support just weeks before the country’s 2022 presidential election.

With the latest supplementary budget, total government spending this year would increase to a record 621.7 trillion won, which adds to the already approved 607.7 trillion won budget.

This would be an increase of 11.4 percent from the original 2021 budget, while it is also expected to bring the ratio of government debt to gross domestic product to a record 50.1 percent.

South Korea has extended its stricter rules on social distancing for another three weeks, including a 21:00 curfew rule for restaurants, cafes and pubs and limited size of private gatherings, amid concerns over a looming wave of the highly contagious Omicron variant, especially before the new lunar year holidays.

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