By Kim Hyelin and Lee Jihae
Small business owners and the self-employed hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic will each receive a maximum of KRW 2 million in cash payments.
President Moon Jae-in on Sept. 10 at the eighth meeting of the Emergency Economic Council announced this measure under an urgent comprehensive plan covering the public's livelihood and the economy.
"As an emergency measure, the government has decided to draw up a fourth supplementary budget in the amount of 7.8 trillion won," he said.
"This supplementary budget will come in the form of emergency relief payments tailored to specific economic damage and will intensively support the lines of business and the people suffering the most to the fullest extent possible."
Nearly half the aid amount (KRW 3.8 trillion) will go toward assisting small business owners and the self-employed hit hard by COVID-19. A combined KRW 3.2 trillion will be used to provide cash payments of up to a maximum of KRW 2 million to each of the 2.91 million eligible small business or self-employed person.
Another KRW 1.4 trillion in budget will go toward protecting 1.19 million jobs.
President Moon said, "Subsidies will be provided for an extended period of time to help businesses retain employees, and the contract-based self-employed, freelancers and other vulnerable workers will also receive additional emergency job security payments."
"We will also provide support more meticulously to the vulnerable with low incomes as they are affected even more severely in difficult times."
Public assistance will also go toward non-contact education and social activities as COVID-19 persists.
"The family-care leave period will be extended for another 10 days, and eligibility for the special support worth KRW 200,000 per child will be greatly expanded from those under the age of seven to include elementary school students. Consequently, 5.32 million children will benefit," the chief executive added.
"Although it will not be much, everyone age 13 or older will receive assistance with telecommunication expenses. It is a little comfort offered by the government and a sincere gesture to the people, who are unable to engage in face-to-face contact and economic activities freely due to COVID-19."
In addition, Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling Democratic Party agreed to provide KRW 20,000 of telecommunication assistance to every citizen age 13 or older.
The supplementary budget bill was approved at the extraordinary Cabinet meeting and will be submitted to the National Assembly.