South Korea's parliament kicked off its February provisional session on Thursday where this year's first COVID-19 relief fund is expected to be passed.
On the first day, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum addressed lawmakers, calling for the approval of the government's recent extra budget proposal.
That budget is worth some 14 trillion Korean won or 11.6 billion U.S. dollars and mostly goes to support pandemic-hit small businesses.
Just last month, expanded relief funds had been provided to more recipients.
But Kim said extra help is needed IMMEDIATELY due to extended restrictions with the emergence of Omicron.
"Speed is more important than anything for this extra budget. The support plan included in the bill should be swiftly delivered to business owners."
Most of the budget will be used to provide some 3.2 million small businesses with some 25-hundred dollars each.
There's also 1.2 billion dollars to secure more hospital beds and COVID-19 pills.
The rest will be set aside as an emergency fund.
Lawmakers will start reviewing the extra budget bill on February 3rd, right after the Lunar New Year holiday.
But both the major parties are currently calling for the budget to be increased two to three fold to roughly 29 billion dollars.
The ruling Democratic Party says relief funds should also cover freelancers in the entertainment sector, taxi drivers, and others who are excluded now.
The main opposition People Power Party says some 8-thousand dollars should be provided to each business.
However, it remains to be seen whether their request can actually be reflected in the bill, as the government is saying "NO" to any increase given the government's finances.
The finalized bill will submitted for a vote in a plenary session.
The date is currently undecided.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.