Government proposes 3.7% hike in 2017 budget

The Korean government has laid out its budget
proposal for next year. The amount… double what it was 12 years
ago… will mainly be injected in measures to create new jobs and finding novel areas
of growth for the future. Kim Min-ji starts us off. Breathing life into the economy while maintaining
fiscal soundness: that’s the goal of the government’s budget plan for next year. The total stands at 400-point-7 trillion won,…
or roughly 360 billion U.S. dollars,… up 3-point-7 percent from this year’s budget. According to the proposal,… roughly one-third
will go to health, welfare and labor,… while the fields of culture, education and national
defense will also see a boost. “The focus will be first and foremost on job
creation. We will also provide customized benefits for
the socially disadvantaged as well as boost investment to deal with the low birth rate
and aging population.” In terms of overall support for the employment
market, the government is looking to increase spending in sectors deemed promising by jobseekers
and extend support to companies that offer flexible work hours. The proposal also includes plans to step up
investment in R&D to foster new growth engines,… including autonomous driving,… augmented
reality and artificial intelligence. Another portion of the budget has been set
aside to push up the low birth rate by offering more financial support for families and encouraging
smaller companies to establish more childcare facilties for their workers. But the heavier budget will have implications
for the country’s fiscal health, as the national-debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to hit a record 40-point-4
percent next year. Although Korea’s overall debt level is still
much lower than that of other OECD member nations,… experts say the pace of growth
remains a source of concern. “During this administration, national debt
is expected to hit 600 billion dollars. That’s a rapid rise of 200 billion. Although the government has emphasized fiscal
soundness,… there are areas that require spending no matter what. As the population gets older that problem
will get worse.” This is why experts point to reforms in the
welfare system and specific policies to resolve structural problems as being crucial in securing
long-term growth. They say without addressing these issues,
financial solutions such as budget supplements and larger budgets… will only challenge
the country’s fiscal soundness. Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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