SPA meeting last Friday

UPDATE 1: Here is what KCNA had to say:

SPA of DPRK Meets

Pyongyang, April 9 (KCNA) — The 2nd Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK was held at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Friday.

It was attended by deputies to the SPA.

Officials of Party, armed forces and power organs, public organizations, ministries and national institutions and those in the fields of science, education, culture and arts, public health and media attended it as observers.

The session discussed the following agenda items: “1. On the work of the DPRK Cabinet in Juche 98 (2009) and its tasks for Juche 99 (2010)”, “2. On the results of the implementation of the DPRK state budget for Juche 98 (2009) and its state budget for Juche 99 (2010)”, “3. On the adoption of the ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly ‘On revising some provisions of the DPRK Socialist Constitution'” and “4. Organizational matter”.

Deputy Kim Yong Il, premier of the Cabinet, in a report on the first agenda item said that last year the indomitable mental power of all the people of the country and production potential were fully displayed and, as a result, the gross industrial output value markedly grew as compared with that in 2008. This year the Cabinet will boost the production of consumer goods and grain by leaps and bounds by putting spurs to the development of light industry and agriculture once again and reenergize the overall production by giving definite priority to the production of electricity, coal, iron and steel and railway transport and, at the same time, energetically organize and conduct the campaign for a great surge with main emphasis on stepping up the technological upgrading and modernization of the national economy, he added.

Deputy Pak Su Gil, vice-premier of the Cabinet and minister of Finance, in a report on the second agenda item said that last year’s state budget revenue was overfulfilled 1.7 percent and the state budgetary expenditure was implemented at 99.8 percent.

He noted that the plan for state budgetary revenue for this year is expected to increase 6.3 percent over last year while the plan for state budgetary expenditure is expected to grow 8.3 percent.

Speakers at the session pointed out that the Cabinet’s work last year and the implementation of its state budget were properly reviewed and summed up, this year’s tasks were clearly laid down and its state budget was correctly shaped. They expressed full support and approval of them.

They manifested their resolution to successfully put into practice the Party’s intention and idea of augmenting the country’s political and military potentials in every way and bringing about a dramatic turn in improving the people’s standard of living in this significant year marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Worker’s Party of Korea.

The session adopted the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On approving the report on the work of the DPRK Cabinet and the results of the implementation of the DPRK state budget for Juche 98 (2009)” and the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On the DPRK state budget for Juche 99 (2010).”

Also adopted there was the ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly “On revising some provisions of the DPRK Socialist Constitution”.

Deputy Pyon Yong Rip was elected secretary general of the Presidium of the SPA to fill vacancy and Deputy Jang Pyong Gyu was appointed as director of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office at the session.

ORIGINAL POST: We still don’t know exactly what happened, but  below is some information from the meeting.

According to the New York Times:

North Korea’s rubber-stamp legislature convened Friday in the capital, Pyongyang, offering few hints of a major policy shift despite a growing desperation for economic recovery.

The country’s ailing leader, Kim Jong-il, did not show up at the Supreme People’s Assembly, igniting speculation about his health and whereabouts. His absence from the assembly, although not unusual, followed some unconfirmed news reports in South Korea in the past week that he might already have embarked on a clandestine trip to China to win needed aid. South Korean officials questioned those reports, though they had earlier predicted that he might soon visit China, the North’s last remaining major ally.

Outside analysts have been closely monitoring Mr. Kim’s absences or appearances in major state affairs since his 2008 stroke fueled speculation on how long he could stay in power. Mr. Kim, 68, is now struggling with North Korea’s deepening economic woes while preparing to hand over power to a son.

On Friday, the legislative session adopted a second constitutional revision in a year, the country’s state-run news agency, KCNA, reported without providing details. The South Korean news agency Yonhap speculated that the amendment might be intended to help the transfer of power from Mr. Kim to his third son, Kim Jong-un, 27.

Others doubted it.

“I think it may have more to do with the economy or a minor readjustment of the Constitution,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul.

The gatherings of legislators in the North provide outside officials and analysts with a rare opportunity to seek clues to North Korean policies and any changes in its leadership hierarchy.

Kim Jong-il, who is also a legislator, has often skipped the sessions. But he used the meeting last year to demonstrate that he was still in charge despite having suffered a stroke in 2008. After months of being out of sight, he entered the parliamentary hall to the thunderous applause of loyal members, though he looked gaunt and limped slightly.

At the time, the assembly approved the first constitutional revision in 11 years to make one of Mr. Kim’s several official titles — chairman of the National Defense Commission — the supreme ruling post in North Korea. The move reconfirmed his already absolute grip on power.

Analysts had said that the session this year was most likely to focus on reviving North Korea’s moribund economy, a goal the nation had set at the start of the year.

On Friday, KCNA reported that the session passed a budget for the year that promised a 10.1 percent increase in spending for consumer goods industries and a 9.4 percent increase for agriculture.

North Korean reports on Friday’s session made no reference to the country’s tricky relations with South Korea and the United States. But the country’s Foreign Ministry reiterated that the North would continue to build and modernize nuclear weapons.

An unidentified spokesman of the ministry told KCNA that North Korea was willing to “denuclearize the Korean Peninsula” — but only if the United States abandoned its “hostile policy” toward the North.

According to AFP (via Asia One):

North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament at its annual meeting Friday will focus on ways to improve living standards after a bungled currency change sparked widespread public anger, analysts said.

Members of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) are effectively chosen by the ruling communist party, and they endorse the bills it puts forward without serious debate.

But the day-long session indicates the secretive regime’s priorities and any changes to the line-up among the ruling elite.

Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies said legislators would approve institutional and personnel changes to bolster leader Kim Jong-Il’s power and prepare for the eventual succession of his third son Jong-Un.

The North is apparently moving to put the national police agency under the direct control of the National Defence Commission headed by Kim, he said.

It was unclear whether the leader would attend the meeting, as he did last year – looking frail and gaunt after a reported stroke.

Since then the regime has been grappling with serious food shortages and tougher UN sanctions imposed to curb its missile and nuclear ambitions.

The currency revaluation last November 30 wa

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