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Daegu to offer emergency aid to virus-battered households, businesses

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The government of Daegu, the southeastern city hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, on Monday announced emergency financial assistance of about 660 billion won ($517 million) to help about 640,000 households suffering economic fallout from the disaster.

The municipal government said it will secure its first COVID-19-linked supplementary budget of 659.9 billion won to hand out varying amounts of financial support to low-income households, small business owners and self-employed people, beginning April 16.

Approximately 640,000 of the city's 1.03 million households are expected to benefit from the special aid package, which will be nearly evenly financed by the central and municipal governments.

Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, accounted for slightly over 70 percent of South Korea's confirmed coronavirus cases totaling 8,961 as of Monday morning. President Moon Jae-in declared Daegu and three nearby regions in North Gyeongsang Province as special disaster zones on March 15, paving the way for special state support for them.

The Daegu government said the special financial support will be implemented in three broad categories -- support for low-income classes, emergency welfare spending and emergency livelihood subsidy.

About 102,000 households in the lowest-income brackets will be paid around 500,000 won each. Some 80,000 households earning less than 75 percent of the median income are to receive 590,000 won each per month for three months. The emergency livelihood subsidy, which ranges from 500,000 to 900,000 won depending on the number of household members, will benefit about 450,000 households earning less than the median income.

Assistance of up to 500,000 won will be paid through prepaid cards, with the rest exceeding the amount to be paid by gift certificates.

The city government will receive applications for the special aid by April 6 before doling out the money shortly after the April 15 general elections.

It plans to implement its second coronavirus-related supplementary budget after securing additional funding from the central government, which last week approved an 11.7 trillion-won extra budget to help contain the novel coronavirus and minimize the economic fallout from the outbreak.

In a relevant move, meanwhile, about 320,000 households suffering economic difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak in the southwestern province of South Jeolla will receive 300,000 to 500,000 won each in emergency cash support from the provincial government.

The South Jeolla government said it will spend 183.5 billion won from its own budget to offer emergency financial support to low-income households led by temporary workers, small business owners, farmers and fishermen.

It estimated about 320,000, or 37 percent, of the province's 870,000 households will benefit from the upcoming assistance, noting the beneficiaries will be selected from among those earning less than the region's median income.

The per-household assistance will vary from 300,000 to 500,000 won, depending on the severity of damage, provincial officials said, noting the money will be paid in the form of prepaid cards or gift certificates.

Over the past week, Seoul, Jeonju and other local governments nationwide have announced similar financial support programs for their residents hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. (Yonhap)
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