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South Korea Approves $9.5 Billion Stimulus Budget to Combat Coronavirus

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03/17/2020 | 05:18pm EDT

By Kwanwoo Jun

South Korea's legislature has approved a $9.5-billion stimulus budget requested by the government to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Assembly late Tuesday voted for 11.7 trillion won in supplementary government spending after marginally trimming the initial proposal, the Ministry of Economy and finance said in a statement.

The approved extra budget will finance the supply of medical equipment and quarantine facilities to contain the virus as well as support businesses, merchants and households hit by the pandemic.

The fiscal stimulus -- mostly to be funded by government debt--would raise the government's debt-to-GDP ratio to 41.2% this year from an estimated 37.2% last year, the ministry said.

Separately, South Korea's central bank held an unscheduled rate-setting meeting Monday and cut its base rate by 50 basis points to a record low of 0.75% to help stem the coronavirus impact.

South Korea is one of the worst-hit countries from the pandemic, reporting 8,320 confirmed cases and 81 deaths as of Tuesday.

 

Write to Kwanwoo Jun at kwanwoo.jun@wsj.com

 

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