SEOUL (Reuters) – The North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the isolated state’s rubber-stamp parliament, will convene on Feb. 6 to discuss government budgets and other issues, state media said on Wednesday as the country faces mounting economic woes.
The North’s parliament rarely meets and usually serves to approve decisions on issues such as governing structures and budgets that have been created by the state’s powerful Workers’ Party, members of which form the vast majority of the assembly.
The agenda for February’s meeting will include the work of the cabinet, government budgets, childcare legislation and “the law on the protection of the rights and interests of overseas compatriots,” KCNA news agency reported.
The decision to convene the parliament came at a plenary meeting of the SPA’s standing committee on Tuesday, KCNA said.
The standing committee was overseen by its chairman, Choe Ryong Hae, one of the most powerful officials under the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
The committee also discussed laws on construction design, property and river and ship transport, KCNA reported.
North Korea’s economy suffered its biggest contraction in 23 years in 2020 as it was battered by continued U.N. sanctions, COVID-19 lockdown measures and bad weather, South Korea’s central bank has estimated.
North Korea has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases, but closed borders and imposed strict prevention measures, seeing the pandemic as a matter of national survival.
The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea has said the country’s most vulnerable people risk starvation after it slipped deeper into isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)