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National Assembly passes 2018 budget bill Updated: 2017-12-06 12:00:36 KST


After days of will they or won't they, the National Assembly finally passed the 2018 budget proposal on Wednesday, four days after the legal deadline of December second.
The spending plan worth 428.eight trillion Korean won, or roughly 394 billion U.S. dollars -- will be directed at creating thousands of new government jobs, boosting welfare, as well as cushioning the fallout from a massive hike in the minimum wage.

"Of the 178 lawmakers present, 160 voted in favor of the bill. Fifteen voted against and there were three abstentions. I proclaim that the revised bill has passed."

The passage didn't come easy.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party refused to participate in the vote.
The vote itself was also delayed for hours, with the conservative party's late attendance as well as heated debates during the plenary session.

The wrangling came despite a tentative agreement over the budget bill on Monday, after days of talks.
While the main opposition was part of those discussions, it did not endorse the compromise -- opposing the creation of so many public sector jobs.
The budget will be used to add 9,475 new jobs next year -- although that figure is less than the ruling Democratic Party of Korea wanted the conservative party insisted on further cuts, saying it would burden future generations.

The plan also sets aside almost three billion dollars as support funds for small companies in the wake of next year's 16 percent hike in the minimum wage, and also includes money directed at offering monthly child benefits to parents with children under the age of five and a rise in basic pension.
Along with the budget bill. also passed was a revised tax code bill -- which the main opposition was also against.
It raises the corporate tax rate to 25 percent for businesses with taxable profit of more than 300 million dollars.
The income tax rate on people whose income exceeds 460,000 dollars a year will be raised to 42 percent, from the current 40 percent.

The tough passage reaffirmed the hurdles the ruling party faces in the opposition-led parliament, but at the same time showed the growing influence of the minor People's Party in legislative affairs as the party with the deciding vote.
It remains to be seen,.. how the ruling bloc can mend ties with the main opposition party, but the budget is expected to pave the way for the Moon Jae-in administration to get its agenda rolling.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.
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