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S. Korea adds $69b economic stimulus package over COVID-19

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-22 15:50

A clerk, wearing a protective face mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease, talks to a customer at a mobile phone shop in Daegu, South Korea, March 10, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

SEOUL - South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that his government will add a total of 85 trillion won ($69 billion) for additional economic stimulus package to tackle a possible "employment shock" from the COVID-19 outbreak across the world.

"Now is the beginning stage of a crisis. Along with the crisis of companies, an employment cold wave is just around the corner. Employment shock that has never been experienced could come more broadly and longer," Moon said during the fifth meeting of the emergency economic council, according to the presidential Blue House.

To support the basis industries, which have a "significant" impact on the economy and employment, 40 trillion won ($32 billion) will be spent on condition that companies maintain their workforce.

The emergency financial aid package for small firms, microbusiness owners and the self-employed will be expanded to 135 trillion ($109 billion) from 100 trillion won ($80 billion) to support more microbusiness owners and even companies with low credit ratings.

A separate 10 trillion won ($8 billion) will be set aside to protect jobs by providing benefits for companies that maintain workforce and offering 500,000 won ($400) per month to freelancers and contract workers, who lost jobs, as well as the self-employed with lower income for three months.

Moon said the government will seek to create about 500,000 jobs in the public sector as the private sector is hard to hire more workers, vowing to normalize the delayed recruitment schedule in the public sector as early as possible.

Moon instructed officials to launch a task force, which will be in charge of the South Korean version "New Deal" to push for massive government projects, ordering the preparation for the "third" supplementary budget.

The "first" extra budget worth 11.7 trillion won ($9.5 billion) was passed through the National Assembly in March, and the "second" supplementary budget of 7.6 trillion won ($6.1 billion) was submitted to the parliament earlier this month.

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