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S. Korea Announces New Spending to Fight Economic Slowdown

South Korea's government is getting ready to open up its wallet again, in hopes of staving off the worst effects of the global economic slowdown. Seoul is adding billions to a planned budget.

South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun said Tuesday, out of a total supplemental budget of $20.7 billion, the government plans to spend more than $12 billion on projects and programs aimed at countering the global recession with the remaining $8 billion going to make up for shortfalls in tax revenue.

He says the supplementary budget reflects the government's response to changing economic conditions both in Korea and internationally. He says the spending is aimed at overcoming the current crisis as quickly as possibly.

The money is an addition to the government's more than $205 billion budget for the year 2009, which must be passed by lawmakers. More than $9 billion of the supplmental budget, is targeted at stabilizing the livelihoods of low-income South Koreans and helping small business owners keep and create jobs.

The government plans to make cash payments, subsidized credit, and coupons redeemable for basic goods and services available to low income earners. Job training and unemployment benefits are also to be expanded.

South Korea also intends to make cash fund regional projects, and invest in emerging industries seen as having growth potential, especially in environmentally friendly industries.

Minister Yoon says the speed of the global economic slowdown has been surprising.

He says the scope and depth of the downturn is happening at a faster pace than expected.

South Korea's spending mirrors on a smaller scale emergency spending in the United States, following last year's collapse of several major U.S. investment banks.

The U.S. Congress passed a $787 billion spending bill earlier this year.