Seoul seeks nearly W1.3 tln for joint projects with N. Korea next year



The South Korean government plans to ask the National Assembly to significantly increase its budget for inter-Korean cooperation projects and aid programs for North Korea, the Ministry of Planning and Budget said Thursday.

Seoul hopes to increase the fund for its cross-border projects to 750 billion won (US$812 million) next year from 500 billion won this year, according to the ministry.

The amount of money allocated for its humanitarian projects will also increase 14 percent to some 530 billion won, the government said.

“The increased budget for humanitarian programs will go to providing half a million tons of rice and 400,000 tons of fertilizer,” each up 100,000 tons from what Seoul provided this year, a government official said while asking not to be identified.

The requests for budget increase are still subject to approval by the parliament, but observers believe the amount of Seoul’s economic aid or assistance will be significantly increased next year following the upcoming summit of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang from Oct. 2 through Oct. 4.

The government was widely expected to promise large assistance and economic cooperation at the summit, only the second of its kind since the two Koreas were divided at the end of 1950-53 Korean War.

Meanwhile, the government also said it would request a total of 895 billion won for its official development assistance next year, up 23.3 percent from some 725 billion won in 2007, as part of efforts to boost its grants and soft loans for developing and under-developed nations to 0.12 percent of its gross national income from 0.08 percent.


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