17.4 billion U.S. dollars.
That's the amount the government wants to use for its fourth batch of COVID-19 relief funds, which will be distributed among almost seven million people.
"The government and the ruling Democratic Party have agreed to allot over 17 billion U.S. dollars for the fourth round of disaster relief funds. This is the biggest amount out of all the previous COVID-19 relief funds, with a special focus on thickening and widening support for those impacted by the pandemic and minimizing blind spots."
Some 13 billion dollars of the stimulus package will come from a supplementary budget bill, which will require the government to issue almost 9 billion dollars of bonds.
The remaining 4 billion dollars will come from the annual state budget.
The government passed the extra budget bill in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, and plans to submit it to the National Assembly for final approval on Thursday.
Of the supplementary budget bill, more than 7 billion dollars will be used for emergency assistance for small businesses, and those at risk of losing their jobs due to the pandemic such as freelancers and corporate taxi drivers.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki says the beneficiaries will also include a broader range of businesses.
"We will provide support for a wider range of people. This includes 400-thousand businesses with five or more employees, and 240-thousand businesses with annual sales of less than some 9-hundred thousand dollars, up from the previous cap of about 360-thousand dollars. We will also increase the maximum amount handed to small businesses to around 4,500 dollars, up from some 2,700 dollars.
Around 2-and-a-half billion dollars will be used for emergency employment measures, which include plans to create around 275-thousand new jobs for young adults and women among others.
Some 3.7 billion dollars will be spent on vaccine purchases and free vaccinations, as well as compensation for medical institutions.
As for the roughly 4 billion dollars from this year's state budget, more than half will be used to support small businesses and SMEs.
About 1.6 billion dollars will be used to promote job retention, and the rest will be used to support the underprivileged.
The fourth round of disaster relief funds are expected to be distributed as early as the end of March.
Kim Jae-hee, Arirang News.