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S. Korean Parliament OKs Budget

March 25, 1998

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Parliament on Wednesday approved a $53 billion government budget that was only 3.8 percent larger than a year ago, the smallest increase in 14 years.

The budget sets aside more than 3 percent to help workers suffering the effects of South Korea’s economic crisis.

South Korea called in the International Monetary Fund in December to bail out its collapsing economy. Terms of the IMF’s $57 billion bailout forced many companies to go bankrupt or lay off employees.

The terms also called for the government to tighten its belt. The government announced this week that it will slash the pay of its 930,000 public servants by up to 20 percent.

The number of jobless South Koreans nearly tripled to 1.5 million in the past year.

From the total budget of 74.08 trillion won, the government plans to use 2.4 trillion won ($1.7 billion) to finance job-training programs, expand unemployment insurance and help small companies create jobs.

South Korea had increased its budget by an average 15 percent annually since 1990.

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