S. Korea's 2022 budget focuses on anti-virus measures & small businesses
Updated: 2021-12-03 17:03:36 KST
To stop the virus in South Korea and revive the economy, the government in 2022 will have its biggest budget on record.
Worth some 515 billion U.S. dollars, nearly one third of it is allocated to healthcare, welfare and employment.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said this spending will prime the pump to end the pandemic and achieve an economic recovery.
"Next year's budget will emphasize the securing of vaccines and treatments and strengthening public health services. It will also focus on providing tailored financial aid for the self-employed and small businesses in dire need of support."
Financial aid for small business is the centerpiece of the budget at nearly 57 billion dollars.
This includes some 30 billion dollars worth of loans at ultra-low interest rates to support around 2.1 million small business owners.
Also, the minimum compensation for those who've had to restrict their operations because of social distancing will go up five fold.
They'll be entitled to a minimum quarterly amount of 500-thousand won, or about 425 dollars.
And to boost regional economies next year, the government will distribute roughly 25 billion dollars in coupons that can be used in local communities.
The government will also spend some 6 billion dollars on virus prevention as part of continued efforts to achieve a return to normal life.
Those funds will be used to purchase more than 400-thousand doses of COVID-19 oral treatments and for responding to adverse reactions.
In addition, around 26 billion dollars will be spent to create more than 2 million jobs, and more than 3 billion dollars is allotted for childcare, including maternity leave.
Added up, the budget will exceed the government's revenue.
The budget deficit in 2022 is forecast at 2.5 percent of GDP.
And the national debt compared to GDP is expected to be around 50 percent.
Eum Ji-young, Arirang News.