S.Korean PM says govt can’t afford extra Covid relief grants


South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Wednesday that the government cannot afford another round of universal Covid-19 relief grants as proposed by Lee Jae-myung, the presidential nominee of the ruling Democratic Party (DP).

Kim made the remark during a radio interview, stressing that the most urgent task for now is to compensate the self-employed and small business owners suffering from the pandemic, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“Our finance does not have enough capacity to do that,” Kim said of Lee’s proposal during the interview with local broadcaster CBS. “Execution of this year’s budget will be over in two months.”

Kim’s remarks were in line with Finance Minster Hong Nam-ki, who previously opposed the idea of giving cash handouts to all people instead of providing them to those who suffered the most.

“In the financial authority’s perspective, our disposable revenue is obvious,” Kim said. “We are not in a situation to get money from here and there.”

Earlier this week, Lee said the government should dole out additional cash handouts to all people, saying that the relief amount is too small considering the nation’s GDP and in comparison with other countries.

He called for providing an additional 300,000-500,000 won ($250-$425) per person at least since the government is expected to log a larger-than-expected surplus in tax revenue this year and many people are still suffering from the pandemic.