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No deal reached, parliamentary standoff to continue

A parliamentary impasse appears set to continue, as rival political parties on Sunday failed to narrow differences on holding a parliamentary hearing on the country’s economic situation.

In addition, an extraordinary session in June is likely to be held without the main opposition Liberty Korea Party. 


Floor leaders from the Liberty Korea Party, Democratic Party and minor opposition Bareunmirae Party held behind-the-scenes discussions to narrow their differences over the weekend, as they are under growing pressure to end the prolonged standoff at the National Assembly.

Rep. Oh Shin-hwan, floor leader of the Bareunmirae Party, told reporters on Sunday afternoon that a deal was unlikely to be struck within the day due to continued wrangling between the Democratic Party and the Liberty Korea Party.

Oh added that the party will seek to resume parliamentary operations, excluding the Liberty Korea Party.

A key sticking point has been whether to hold a parliamentary hearing on economic issues.

The Liberty Korea Party has insisted on holding the hearing to question the government over what it calls the country’s economic crisis. The ruling Democratic Party has refused this demand and accused the main opposition party of using the issue to suit its political agenda.

Liberty Korea Party Floor Leader Rep. Na Kyung-won on Sunday reiterated the call for a public hearing on the country’s economic situation, giving a de facto ultimatum.

“Before reviewing the extra budget, we need to pinpoint the causes of economic crisis through a parliamentary hearing,” Rep. Na said in a statement.

“We need to know whether (the current economic crisis) is due to external conditions as the government said, or whether there are some problems in policies, such as the income-led growth, to find out how to fix it,” she said, calling for the hearing and adding that it is her final suggestion.

The Democratic Party has argued that holding the hearing would waste time as the extra budget should be urgently passed.

“Taking time to find out the causes and solutions again (for the current economic situation) means that they would just not execute the extra budget in time and would not do anything in this crisis,” Democratic Party spokesperson Lee Jae-jung said in a statement.

Na earlier said the Liberty Korea Party would discuss the next steps if the deal was not reached.

Even when the parliament opens, however, further political wrangling is expected as the Liberty Korea Party opposes the government-proposed 6.7 trillion won extra budget, as well as bills -- on issues including judiciary reform -- that the Democratic Party and other minor opposition parties put on the fast track.

Regarding the extra budget, Na denounced the proposal as “financial populism” and argued the budget fails to include plans to boost the economy.

“Looking closely into the extra budget, it does not include (money) for proper disaster recovery or economic stimulation,” she said. “Passing this kind of extra budget, it is a dereliction of duty as a parliament and as a representative of the Korean people.”

By Ock Hyun-ju (