The National Assembly Budget Office held the Online Grand Debate on the 2022 Budget Bill on Tuesday, October 26, 3 pm at the third floor of the National Assembly Budget Office building to seek the proper direction of the examination process of the government budget Bill by the National Assembly. The opening ceremony consisted of an opening speech by Chief Lim Ik-sang, words of encouragement by Speaker of the National Assembly, Park Byeong-seug, and congratulatory remarks by Lee Jongbae, the Chairman of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts.
Prof. Won Yun-hi at the University of Seoul moderated the debate. Choi Sang-dae, Deputy Minister of the Budget Office at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, first delivered a presentation on the highlights of the 2022 budget Bill. He said the budget Bill would continue to support a complete recovery from the COVID-19 shock, promote inclusivity through supports and compensations for small business owners, and make another leap forward. Further, he elaborated on significant investments such as a vaccine, quarantine measures, inclusive recovery, balanced regional development, protection of Koreans, and their quality of life.
Song Byoung-choul, Assistant Chief for Budget Analysis at NABO, gave a second presentation on major characteristics and analysis of the 2022 budget Bill. In his talk, he highlighted the necessity to strengthen fiscal soundness through efficient spending and increased revenue, considering the increase in national debt. He further explained the analysis results of projects included in the budget Bill, such as supports for small business owners in management crisis; net-zero transition; reinforcing multi-layered social safety net including expanding eligibility for social insurance premium support, sickness benefits, and child allowance; and comprehensive support for youths.
The first panelist, Rep. Yang Kyung-sook of the Democratic Party of Korea, said that the national debt had increased temporarily due to expansionary fiscal policy. However, the sustainability of the budget may be secured through a virtuous cycle in the mid- to long-term. She added that during the 2022 budget Bill deliberation, she would focus on supports for vulnerable classes, including small business owners, so that the budget can protect the everyday lives of all Koreans.
The second panelist, Rep. Choi Hyung-du of the People Power Party, said that though a surge of the national budget was inevitable due to the COVID-19 crisis, the pace of increase is faster than that of France and Germany because this Korean government did not consider the financial status of the country the next government. He emphasized that the 2022 budget Bill is for the 20th government and should support small business owners and socially marginalized groups while abolishing unnecessary regulations and achieving economic recovery through free corporate management.
The third panelist, Rep. Kang Eun-mi of the Justice Party, said that during the budget bill deliberation, she would focus on climate change responses and solving social inequality, such as creating funds on climate change response, redistribution of expenditures which is disproportionately spent on industrial transition and R&D, improving the work environment for unlimited contract workers in the public sector.
Prof. Kim Tae-il from the Korea University also said in the debate that as the year 2022 is the last year for the Moon administration and the first year for the next government, it is essential to monitor the management of projects and assess the effectiveness. He also stressed the importance of the National Assembly’s role in securing fiscal soundness and reinforcing the effectiveness of national budgetary management.
Lastly, Prof. Kim So-young from the Seoul National University underscored that enormous fiscal policies for strong economic recovery might entail upward pressure on inflation. He added that the demand for Korean sovereign bonds is not high. Korea’s national debt is at an average level compared to other countries with non-key currencies.
The results of this Grand Debate will be delivered to the National Assembly’s Standing Committees, the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, Members of Parliaments’ offices, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the government so that it can be actively utilized during the National Assembly’s deliberation on the 2022 budget Bill.