Budget to focus on welfare, job creation in 2013
Korea's budget for 2013 will focus heavily on welfare, job creation and education-related spending to meet growing demands for social security and achieve sustainable growth, the government said Tuesday.
The budget plan, outlined by the finance ministry and approved by the Cabinet, emphasizes sustainable growth and restoring a balanced budget next year to ensure the country has the available resources to cope with its rapidly aging population, reunification and other unforeseen economic crisis situations down the road.
It will mark the first time since 2003 that Seoul has been able to balance its budget.
"Next year's budget will stress the need to create a welfare system based on helping people find work and the critical need to maintain sustainable growth," said the finance ministry in charge of the country's macroeconomic policies.
Achieving a balance between revenues and outlays is needed to prevent future generations from being burdened from present excessive spending, it said.
On job creation and welfare, Asia's fourth-largest economy will try to help people find work, support programs to strengthen competitiveness of prospective job seekers and create stable positions with good pay.
The ministry said efforts will be made to make it easier to set up new businesses, with assistance offered to help people find overseas jobs.
The government will, in addition, expand childcare support for 3- and 4-year-old children, and take steps to actively reduce the burden of paying for college tuition.
State money will also be used help people find affordable rental homes, with funds to be allocated to caring for senior citizens, the physically handicapped and multi-cultural families.
On money spent to bolster the economy, the country will do more to promote research and development, and help entrepreneurs expand into new industries and markets that can generate long-term growth.
Emphasis will be placed on helping modernize the country's agricultural infrastructure that could be hurt by free trade agreements with foreign countries, and build up competitiveness in renewable energy sectors.
The finance ministry said every measure will be taken to expand the country's revenue base and enhance efficiency in spending taxpayer money.
"There is a pressing need to keep state debt under control to ensure the country's ability to meet steadily growing spending requirements," it said.
In 2011, state debt was equal to 34.0 percent of the country's gross domestic economy, with Seoul aiming to bring this down to 33.3 percent this year and 31.3 percent in 2013.
The budget plan, meanwhile, has been sent to government ministries who will be tasked with outlining their spending proposals to the finance ministry by June 20 so it can sent the proposals to the National Assembly by late September. (Yonhap)