• Finance Minister Indicates Extra Budget Increase Unlikely
(Photo: Yonhap)

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki says it's no easy task for the government to increase the size of an extra budget currently under review in parliament.

Hong made the comment to reporters in Venice, Italy, on Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers.

The Korean government proposed in late June an extra budget of 33 trillion won to fund another round of COVID-19 aid packages for the bottom 80 percent income bracket and small merchants.

Lawmakers, however, believe more money is needed as the country is reeling from a fourth wave of the pandemic with the Seoul metropolitan area under the toughest virus curbs.

Minister Hong said in order to increase the supplementary budget the government would have to sell more bonds, but with the current situation, that's not something it can do.

Hong said, however, the government is open to further supporting small merchants if the current virus curbs are extended for a prolonged period.

The minister also voiced optimism that the government will be able to attain 4.2 percent economic growth this year.

But some experts doubt whether the economy can grow more than 4 percent as the worsening coronavirus situation will likely dampen domestic demand.

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