I’m glad to have you all here.
We are in a grave situation with both infectious disease prevention and control and the economy. As the COVID-19 outbreak is protracted, public health and economic crises are threatening us all at once. With the number of new confirmed cases on a downward trend recently and fully recovered patients outnumbering new cases daily, our infectious disease prevention and control measures are seeing signs of progress. However, the time is never right for complacency. We should step up infectious disease prevention and control efforts to prevent sporadic infection clusters from occurring in the Seoul metropolitan area. With the outbreak being declared a “pandemic,” the need for international collaboration has become all the more urgent.
More worrying still is the economy and people’s livelihoods. We are in a state of crisis across all industrial sectors, not just on a few fronts. The Government has drawn up a supplementary budget in the amount of 11.7 trillion won in addition to a support package worth more than 20 trillion won that contains measures to promote domestic demand and consumption. The problem is, however, simply overcoming our own crisis successfully does not necessarily mean that all the issues can be solved.
The COVID-19 outbreak is simultaneously impacting supply and demand and causing a multi-crisis for the real economy and finance. As the entire world is going through this problem, the economic crisis is highly likely to be prolonged. In particular, as it is unfolding in ways completely different from past economic crises, we need unprecedented countermeasures.
Out of a sense of desperation, we have invited you all today – representatives of management and labor, SMEs and mid-market companies, business ventures and microbusiness owners, export and service industries, the finance sector and consumer groups. I am grateful to the nation’s two umbrella unions for joining us after a long period.
We must overcome the COVID-19 outbreak and also succeed in reviving the economy without fail. I am looking forward to all of you pooling your wisdom to overcome the crisis in order to bring hope to our people.
The Government will provide massive support totaling 32 trillion won, including the supplementary budget. We will not only strengthen our capabilities to cope with infectious diseases but also further speed up stabilizing the people’s livelihoods by providing emergency management stabilization funds to affected SMEs and microbusiness owners, subsidizing wages for small-scale businesses and providing support to maintain employment and to supply low-income households with sufficient financial resources.
Above all, we will strive to ensure that the assistance required reaches those in need in a timely manner by swiftly disbursing the funds. In particular, we will not be constrained by precedent and will take additional “preemptive,” “bold” and “sufficient” measures to revive the economy for ordinary people’s livelihoods while responding to global economic shocks. The Government will also concentrate all its efforts on stabilizing the financial market. From now on, I will personally preside over the emergency economic council, which will serve as the central economic response headquarters, to deal with this highly unusual economic situation.
Global cooperation is now imperative for both public health and the economy. For this reason, I suggested a G20 teleconference summit to key countries. We are making diplomatic efforts to at least allow businesspeople to travel across borders even though every country is presently restricting entry for infectious disease prevention and control purposes.
I believe in the power of solidarity and cooperation. At this very moment, medical professionals and civilian volunteers are engaging in a life-or-death struggle against the virus on the frontlines. The people themselves have become the principal agents of the infectious disease prevention and control efforts and are pooling their strengths.
Businesses, banks and religious organizations are voluntarily offering their training centers and retreats as residential treatment centers, and the Good Landlord Campaign is spreading to every corner of the country. At the Economic, Social and Labor Council, labor and business leaders resolved to share pain and win the battle against the outbreak together by announcing a labor, management and government declaration to overcome COVID-19. Business ventures and startups have developed rapid diagnostic kits and are providing useful information through Corona Map and Mask Map websites and apps, easing the infectious disease prevention and control authorities’ burden.
When it is dark, our people’s potential shines even brighter. Now, we are practicing social distancing, but it’s time to narrow the distance between our hearts even further. The Government will contain the spread of infectious diseases in a belief that infectious disease prevention and control is the best economic measure and make all-out efforts to protect the economy. However, government efforts alone are not enough. I wholeheartedly ask the principal agents of our economy to become the main players in surmounting the crisis through the power of solidarity and cooperation. Thank you.