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Moon requests parties’ support for budget for COVID-19 outbreak

President Moon Jae-in holds a meeting with leaders of political parties at the National Assembly on Friday. From left: Rep. Yu Sung-yup of the Party for People`s Livelihoods. Rep. Lee Hae-chan of the ruling Democratic Party, Hwang Kyo-ahn of United Future Party and Rep. Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in holds a meeting with leaders of political parties at the National Assembly on Friday. From left: Rep. Yu Sung-yup of the Party for People`s Livelihoods. Rep. Lee Hae-chan of the ruling Democratic Party, Hwang Kyo-ahn of United Future Party and Rep. Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party. Yonhap

President Moon Jae-in on Friday met with leaders of political parties, calling for their cooperation in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

“(I) ask you to increase the speed and strength of the cooperation. I hope (the parties) will shore up measures such as strengthening the country’s quarantine capabilities, and aid (to those affected by the outbreak) with the (supplementary) budget,” Moon said.

With the virus spreading rapidly, the government and the ruling Democratic Party have called for a supplementary budget to fund related projects.

“A supplementary budget will be drawn up as quickly as possible and submitted to the National Assembly. As it is an emergency situation, I ask (for the supplementary budget) to be discussed and process in the extraordinary session of the National Assembly.”

Leader of the main opposition United Future Party Hwang Kyo-ahn accused the government of failing to handle the outbreak, referring to COVID-19 as “Wuhan corona.”

The main opposition criticizes the government for using WHO-recommended terms such as “new coronavirus” and “COVID-19” as an attempt to appease the Chinese government, and refers to the illness as “Wuhan corona” or “Wuhan pneumonia” instead.

“The Wuhan corona situation was at first a situation of an infectious disease spreading from China. But, gradually, the Wuhan corona situation began to have elements of a man-made disaster,” Hwang said.

“The government’s failure was critical to the current crisis. More than anything else, early response was a failure. An entry ban on (travelers from all of) China should have been implemented in the early stages.”

Hwang went on to accuse the president and prime minister of complacency, saying that their stances led to lax quarantine measures.

Saying that the day’s meeting was a meeting between the president and “representative of the people,” Hwang called on the president to apologize to the public, and to remove Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha.

Left-leaning opposition leader Rep. Sim Sang-jeung of the Justice Party, meanwhile, called on the parties to put political wrangling on hold, and called on the government to control all of Korea’s daily mask output.

With the outbreak causing a shortage of protective masks, the government rolled out plans to place 50 percent of the country’s daily mask production under government control and limits on exports.

She also raised concerns for the supplementary budget drawn up for the COVID-19 outbreak to be used strictly on related issues, citing the use of the 10 trillion won supplementary budget drawn up for the MERS outbreak in 2015. According to Sim, only 2 trillion won of the supplementary budget was used.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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