Budget negotiations fall apart for next year
Negotiations on next year’s budget fell apart Thursday.
Friday is the formal deadline for the National Assembly to approve a budget bill but in most years it misses it.
The liberal Democratic Party (DP) called on Speaker Kim Jin-pyo on Thursday to open a plenary session at the Assembly, which Kim refused, citing key differences between the DP and the conservative People Power Party.
The DP wants a plenary session so it can pass a bill of no-confidence in Interior Minister Lee Sang-min to hold him responsible for the deadly crowd crush in Itaewon in October.
President Yoon Suk-yeol has opposed calls to dismiss Lee. His PPP says such a decision should wait until the results of an ongoing parliamentary investigation into the tragedy.
Disagreements between the two major parties remain on budget allotment for key projects of the Yoon administration such as the creation of Yongsan Park in the former home of the U.S. Forces Korea. The DP wants to completely scrap the budget allotment for the park, set at around 30 billion won ($23 million).
The DP also has plans to cut the budget for the Yoon administration’s real estate projects, and instead finance real estate projects put forward by DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung, who lost to Yoon in the presidential election last March.
PPP floor leader Joo Ho-young met with DP floor leader Park Hong-keun on Thursday to try to narrow the differences, but failed.
There were only two times since 2014 that the Assembly was able to pass the budget bill before the legal deadline: on Dec. 2, 2014 and Dec. 2, 2020.
In a speech to the National Assembly in October, Yoon said his administration set the budget for 2023 at 639 trillion won, which was 5.2 percent higher than this year.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]