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S.Korea President vows to raise fiscal spending to create jobs

WOMEN wearing protective masks talk behind a cordoned-off area of a Han river park amid the pandemic in Seoul, South Korea, April 29. — REUTERS

SEOUL — South Korea President Moon Jae-in said on Monday the government will further boost fiscal spending if needed to increase jobs, as the country deals with its worst unemployment rate in two decades.

In a speech marking his fourth year in office, Mr. Moon also said policies will focus on making sure the economy expands more than 4% this year, a rosier outlook than the finance ministry’s current forecast of between 3% and 4%.

“We will pay more attention to young people and women who are undergoing hardships. Drafting additional fiscal spending would be an option if needed while quickly executing the (existing) job budget,” Mr. Moon said in a televised speech.

An active stimulus approach by policy makers has produced a modest domestic recovery. The government pledged to spend about 310 trillion won ($275 billion) of fiscal outlays through four supplementary budgets in 2020.

Exports are firing up to outweigh domestic demand, but job losses continued through the first quarter of this year, leading to the highest unemployment rate in two decades of 5% in the January-March period.

That’s hurting Mr. Moon’s image as a self-styled “Jobs President,” having pledged to add 500,000 new jobs every year during his five-year presidency.

Mr. Moon’s single five-year term ends in 2022. — Reuters

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