SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- The Cabinet on Friday approved a 14 trillion won (US$11.8 billion) extra budget plan aimed at supporting small merchants hit by the pandemic.
The proposal passed an extraordinary Cabinet session presided over by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum and is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly next Monday for approval.
The request includes an additional 3 million won in relief payments for 3.2 million merchants following the extension of the government's antivirus curbs, including a cap on the size of private gatherings and business curfews.
"We are less than a month into the new year, but the government urgently drew up a supplementary budget to ease the pain of small merchants and the self-employed as soon as possible," Kim said at the meeting.
"As the ruling and opposition parties have discussed the need for an extra budget in consideration of the pressing situation, I hope they will actively cooperate to swiftly pass the extra budget proposal through the National Assembly," he added.
Both the ruling Democratic Party and main opposition People Power Party have called for increasing the amount despite criticism the payments are an act of vote-buying ahead of the March 9 presidential election.