Keeping its expansionary tone… the government
has laid out its budget proposal for next year，… set to be submitted to the National
Assembly on Friday. Officials hope to fire up the sluggish economy
with the plan，… but concerns grow over the country′s fiscal health.
Our Shin Se－min has the details. The Korean government laid out a modest spending
plan for 2016， with an aim to breathe fresh life into the faltering economy.
According to the plan， nearly 32 percent of the total budget will be spent on improving
social welfare，… with about 13 percent of that earmarked for lifting youth employment.
Defense spending will also increase by four percent，… as the government seeks to modernize
military equipment in the face of possible threats from North Korea.
The total budget of 386－point－7 trillion won，… or 320－billion U.S. dollars，
is up three－percent from this year′s spending… that includes a supplementary package.
But， the rise… is fueling concerns over the country′s fiscal soundness. ″The higher level of national debt should
be seen as an inevitable way to support the economy，… but the government will do its
part to shore up the domestic economy by all means.″ With the budget proposal… the sovereign
debt next year… is expected to surpass 40－percent of the country′s GDP the highest figure
on record. This… as the fiscal deficit is forecast
to reach 2－point－3 percent of the GDP in 2016… from two－point－1 this year.
Experts say… although the country′s fiscal debt is currently at optimum levels，…
it has the potential to worsen faster than the government expects. ″The country′s aging population and the
crisis of youth unemployment will only push the government to spend more in the years
to come.″ While the government reassured the public
that it′s not considering raising taxes，… it′s trying to ensure fiscal soundness by
forging financial reform. Both the government and experts point to the
need for the National Assembly to approve a ″pay－as－you－go″ system a rule
that ensures new expenditures or tax cuts are paid for in advance， through spending
reductions or tax increases. Shin Se－min， Arirang News.