SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s finance minister said on Thursday the government will consider drafting its fourth supplementary budget of this year should the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic significantly worsen.
As coronavirus cases rise, officials are debating whether they should deploy the toughest stage 3 social-distancing rules, where schools and business are urged to close, which would inflict further pain on Asia’s fourth largest economy.
“Should we adopt the stage 3 social distancing rules, its impact on the economy will be a lot more serious,” Hong Nam-ki said in a briefing where remarks were embargoed for Friday.
“So regarding the fourth extra budget, that will depend on the pace of new coronavirus case increases, as well as decision on whether we raise social distancing rules.”
A fourth extra budget would bolster the 277 trillion won ($233.87 billion) worth of fiscal stimulus already pledged by the government this year to fight the pandemic.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 371 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 19,077, including 316 deaths.
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)