SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's parliament on Friday passed a record-high budget bill for 2022, amounting to 607.7 trillion won (514 billion U.S. dollars).
The final budget package was up 3.3 trillion won (2.8 billion U.S. dollars) from the government proposal in a bid to expand support for the damages caused by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill was passed through the National Assembly by 159-53, with 24 abstentions. The ruling Democratic Party owned a majority of 169 seats out of the unicameral assembly's total 295 seats.
The main conservative opposition People Power Party objected to the defense ministry's 7.2 billion won (6.1 million U.S. dollar) budget to build a light aircraft carrier.
It was initially slashed by the parliamentary defense committee, but the full amount was restored in the final budget package.
The 2022 budget included 68 trillion won (57.5 billion U.S. dollars) to financially support microbusiness owners and small merchants, of which businesses were roiled by the prolonged pandemic.
Under the budget, the minimum compensation for small merchants' business losses from the pandemic was raised to 500,000 won (420 U.S. dollars) from the current 100,000 won (85 U.S. dollars).
A total of 351.6 billion won (297.5 million U.S. dollars) was earmarked to purchase the anti-virus pills to treat COVID-19, while 390 billion won (330 million U.S. dollars) were set aside to secure 4,000 more hospital beds for critically ill patients infected with the COVID-19.