Seoul signals increase to inter-Korean budget, but far from spending current budget

UPDATE: Although South Korea has signaled willingness to increase spending in North Korea (below), it appears they have come nowhere close to spending their current budget.  According to Yonhap:

South Korea has so far this year spent less than 5 percent of its annual budget earmarked to promote reconciliation with North Korea, the Unification Ministry’s data showed Wednesday.

The meager spending of the inter-Korean cooperation budget mirrored stagnant economic exchanges yet to be enlivened despite a recent thaw in political relations.

The data showed that South Korea has set aside 1.16 trillion won (US$990.94 million) for this year’s inter-Korean cooperation budget, which includes 43 billion won transferred from last year, to support joint business projects and provide industrial and humanitarian aid to the North.

The budget spending as of the end of September amounted to 55.9 billion won, 4.8 percent of the total, according to the data.

In a detailed breakdown of expenditures, the ministry spent 10.6 billion won, or 11.3 percent of the 93.8 billion won budget earmarked for the South Korean-run factory park in the North’s border town of Kaesong. Planned projects to build a dormitory for North Korean workers and modernize roads there have also not begun. The Kaesong park hosts about 110 South Korean firms with 40,000 employees from the North.

Humanitarian aid was the area in which funds were held back most. Out of the earmarked 819.8 billion won, the ministry has spent a meager 0.9 percent, or 7.7 billion won, so far. Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said in a parliamentary audit Tuesday that Seoul will decide when to resume its rice and fertilizer aid, crucial to food supplies in the North, after “considering the climate of future inter-Korean relations.”

For social and cultural exchanges, the ministry spent 2.2 billion won, or 25.3 percent of the earmarked 8.7 billion won. Loans for inter-Korean cooperation projects amounted to 11.3 percent, or 21 billion won out of 186.6 billion won.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Yonhap:

South Korea’s government proposed a 30 percent increase in its budget spending aimed at supporting inter-Korean economic cooperation projects for next year, the finance ministry said Tuesday.

According to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the budget set aside for inter-Korean economic cooperation next year will amount to 398.2 billion won (US$339.6 million), compared with 304.6 billion won assigned for this year.

Citation:
Seoul proposes 30 pct increase in budget for inter-Korean economic cooperation
Yonhap
10/6/2009

Share

An affiliate of 38 North