South Korea’s budget for 2013 will focus on welfare, job creation and education to meet growing demand for increased social spending, the finance ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry said its budget plan, approved by the cabinet, called for sustainable economic growth.
It said next year’s growth is expected to recover to the four percent range from an estimated 3.7 percent expansion this year, helped by a persistent increase in exports and a steady improvement in domestic consumption.
The ministry proposed a balanced budget for the first time since 2003 to help Asia’s fourth largest economy cope with its rapidly ageing population, preparations for eventual reunification with North Korea and any unexpected economic crises.
Next year’s budget will reflect as much as possible increasing demands for better welfare systems, it said, giving only guidelines and no figures for spending or revenue.
Welfare was a key topic in this month’s parliamentary election, in which the conservatives narrowly retained a majority.
The government will expand childcare support for three- and four-year-olds and take steps to ease the burden of high college tuition fees.
Money will be used to help people find affordable homes to rent, the ministry said, and more funds would be allocated for senior citizens, the physically handicapped and multicultural families.
The government will also help people find work, strengthen competitiveness of prospective job seekers and create stable jobs, it said. Assistance would be offered to help Koreans find work overseas.
Emphasis would be placed on modernising agriculture that could be hurt by free trade agreements.