Jeonju, a southwestern South Korean city, said Friday it will pay half a million won each to about 50,000 citizens suffering economic losses from the coronavirus outbreak.
The capital of North Jeolla Province said about 50,000 economically vulnerable citizens, including unemployed people, will receive an “anti-disaster basic income” of 527,158 won (US$430) per person, as part of its efforts to overcome the city’s economic fallout from COVID-19.
The local government said the cash will be paid in the form of debit cards in April and should be spent in the city within three months.
Jeonju is a city about 250 kilometers south of Seoul with a population of 650,000.
It will be the first time for a South Korean local government to pay residents a basic income related to the coronavirus outbreak.
The city’s announcement came amid the ongoing debate on the provision of anti-COVID-19 basic income, triggered by South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo who recently proposed doling out 1 million won per person to all South Koreans to help overcome the coronavirus crisis.
Lee Jae-myung, governor of Gyeonggi Province, has expressed support for Kim’s proposal, while Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has suggested providing gift certificates worth 600,000 won each to households in the low- and middle-income brackets.
The COVID-19 outbreak has so far infected nearly 8,000 people and killed about 70 in South Korea, wreaking havoc on small businesses nationwide and driving many of them to the brink of their worst-ever crisis as people are increasingly staying away from public places.
Jeonju and the surrounding North Jeolla have so far reported seven confirmed cases of the epidemic.
According to Jeonju officials, the municipal council on Friday approved the city government’s emergency supplementary budget of 55.7 billion won, including 26.4 billion won earmarked for the basic income payment.
The city government requested a per capita basic income of 500,000 won, but the council increased the amount to over 527,000 won, they noted.
It will separately spend 27 billion won on financially supporting the city’s small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
“It is hoped that the (basic income) will greatly encourage low-income households suffering from the economic crisis. Non-regular and part-time workers and other citizens facing income reductions will be led to overcome the crisis through the support measures,” said Jeonju Mayor Kim Seung-su. (Yonhap)