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S. Korea's fourth round of COVID-19 relief support amounts to around US$ 18 billion Updated: 2021-02-24 16:53:42 KST

South Korea's upcoming fourth round of COVID-19 relief support will amount to some 18 billion U.S. dollars.
That's according to the president's chief of staff for policy, Kim Sang-jo on Wednesday who hinted that it's almost a done deal.
With funds coming from both the regular budget and the supplementary budget, it will be the largest round of COVID-19-related relief support so far.
The support could come as early as March.
Though further details have yet to be revealed, finance minister Hong Nam-ki said earlier on the same day that it will focus on supporting pandemic-hit businesses and boosting employment.
The rule is 'broader and deeper support'.
It's expected to cover a broader range of people,while expanding additional support to those hit hardest.
This means covering more types of workers that were deprived of support in the previous rounds due to a lack of clear guidelines.
Those include platform workers and freelancers.
Also more businesses will be recipients as the cutoff for support will be extended to those with annual revenues of less than 900-thousand dollars from the previous 360-thousand.
Listing employers with more than five workers as small businesses is also on the table.
The maximum payment per person is likely to be more than 5,400 dollars, some 900 dollars more than previously expected.
However, experts say the government still needs to make sure the relief funds don't have any blind spots.

"Young people and irregular workers have also been hit hard but support for them is not under discussion. And the biggest problem is that cash support cannot continue as it will grow like a snowball. Boosting the economy to help people cope on their own would be a better way of reducing the damage.

The upcoming round will also cover the country's vaccination plan, starting this week.
The government expects to submit the budget plan to lawmakers by early next month.
Kim Sung-min, Arirang News.
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