Rival parties make slow progress toward passage of 2014 budget billUpdated: 2013-12-30 PM 10:47:24 (KST)
The floor leaders of the rival parties, who have been holding closed-door marathon talks all Monday, have reportedly reached an agreement on the 2014 budget bill.
After the budget bill gets the okay from the special parliamentary budget committee, it will enter a full-Assembly session for a final vote.
The rival parties also agreed to lower the bar for who pays the highest income tax rate of 38 percent.
Currently, those who make more than 300-million won, or 284-thousand U.S. dollars, a year are required to pay the highest tax rate.
However, the rival parties have agreed to lower the bar substantially, to those making at least 150-million won, or 142-thousand dollars, a year.
They also agreed to raise the minimum tax rate for conglomerates by one-percentage point to 17 percent.
"Monday was the day that the leaders of the rival parties had agreed to pass the 2014 budget bill and a bill on reforming the scandal-ridden National Intelligence Service.
However, they spent much of the day fighting over what the scope of the NIS reforms should be, stalling the processing of next year's budget.
The biggest sticking point has to do with the addition of a clause in the bill on reforming the National Intelligence Service which bans NIS agents from having full access to government offices and media outlets.
The main opposition Democratic Party is asking that the ban be put into law to prohibit illegal information-gathering activities.
The ruling Saenuri Party is opposed to the idea, saying the ban will limit the ability of agents to gather intelligence.
The 340-billion-U.S. dollar budget plan for 2014, drawn up by the government in September, has been collecting dust in the legislature for months as the rival parties have been at odds over allegations that the spy agency tried to sway public opinion in favor of now President Park Geun-hye ahead of last year's presidential election.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.
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