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Rival parties give last minute push to pass 2014 budget, NIS reform plan before year's end

Updated: 2013-12-26 AM 11:58:46 (KST)
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The ruling and opposition party leaders of the special parliamentary committee to reform the National Intelligence Service met Thursday to hash out the details of a reform plan for the spy agency.
On Wednesday, the floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic Party agreed to pass next year's budget bill along with a NIS reform plan next Monday.
The 340-billion-U.S. dollar budget plan for 2014, drawn up by the government in September, has been stuck in the legislature amid a deadlock between the rival parties over allegations the spy agency tried to sway public opinion in favor of now President Park Geun-hye ahead of last year's presidential election.
The Christmas Day deal, however, did not include an agreement over other key bills.
The Saenuri Party demanded the main opposition party help pass bills aimed at facilitating foreign investment and tourism in the country.
President Park urged policymakers earlier this month to pass these bills, saying they are necessary to revive the sluggish economy and give momentum to the gradual recovery.
The Democratic Party, however, called for prohibiting efforts to privatize the state-run rail operator, KORAIL, and writing such a ban into law.
The 76-hundred member railroad union has been striking for nearly three weeks, the longest rail strike in Korean history, to protest the government's attempt to set up a subsidiary company to run a new high-speed train line from southeast of Seoul, to the southern port city of Busan.
The railroad union says the move is part of the government's plan to eventually privatize national rail services but the government stresses it has no intention of doing so.
Although the rival parties failed to reach a consensus over these issues Wednesday, they did agree to continue discussing these bills at respective standing committees.
As for next year's budget bill, the rival parties have cleared about two-thirds of 1-hundred-20 government business projects, mostly to do with job creation and creative economy.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.

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