Electricity rate freeze for 3.65 mln households to be extended

SEOUL, The government and the ruling party agreed Sunday to extend an electricity rate freeze for 3.65 million households in vulnerable groups, a party spokesperson said. The decision was reached during a meeting of senior officials of the government, the presidential office and the People Power Party (PPP) at the National Assembly, where they discussed measures to support the people's livelihoods ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which this year falls on Feb. 10, according to Rep. Park Jeong-ha, the PPP's chief spokesperson. Other agreed measures include the reduction of interest payment on loans from nonbank financial institutions for small business owners and self-employed people. Around 400,000 people are expected to be eligible for the reduction of up to 1.5 million won (US$1,140) starting in late March. Also included are a higher cap on monthly purchases of "Onnuri" coupons, which are used to pay for goods at traditional markets and small shops at a discounted price. The current cap is 1 million won but will be raised to 1.5 million won. The total amount of Onnuri coupons will also be increased from 4 trillion won to 5 trillion won. In addition, expressway tolls will be waived during the Lunar New Year holiday period from Feb. 9 to 12, while KTX and SRT train tickets will be offered at a discount of up to 30 percent for people traveling from the provinces to the capital area. Source: Yonhap News Agency