Parliament makes some progress toward passage of 2014 budgetUpdated: 2013-12-31 AM 6:28:08 (KST)
The parliament had hoped to pass next year's budget bill and a bill on reforming the scandal-ridden National Intelligence Service in a full-member session Monday, but failed.
However, hours of marathon talks between the floor leaders of the rival parties throughout all of Monday have made significant progress toward the final passage of the two bills.
On Monday, they came to an agreement on next year's budget bill and a plan to revise the tax code, which involves lowering the bar for those who will be subject to 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 rate.
However, the agreement lowers the bar substantially to those making at least 150 million won, or 142-thousand dollars a year.
This marks the first tax increase on the rich under the Park Geun-hye administration.
"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 had 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.
However, the two sides reached a tentative compromise late Monday, in which NIS agents will be banned from having full access to government offices.
Sources also say that the tentative agreement stipulates penalties for any illegal activities performed by agents who are part of the psychological warfare unit.
The 340-billion-U.S. dollar budget plan for 2014, drawn up by the government in September, has been stuck in the legislature for months as the rival parties have been at odds over allegations that the NIS 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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