S.Korea says assigning 45.1% of budget to Q1

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea has allocated 45.1 per cent of its annual budget spending for the current quarter to support the struggling economy, slightly more than last year and the most in more than 10 years.

The allocation for the January-March period is up slightly from 44.1 per cent last year and the most since at least 2002.

Total funds allocated for the first quarter this year is up by 8 per cent to 134.6 trillion won (US$154.80 billion) from 124.7 trillion won a year earlier.

"We are advancing budget spending in order to aggressively counter the continuing economic slowdown stemming from the prolonged global uncertainties," the ministry said in a statement.

Policymakers had predicted Asia's fourth-largest economy would have hit bottom by September last year and recovery to start from the final quarter, but some of the recent indicators suggest a sustained pick-up may be delayed.

There is usually a significant gap between the total amount of spending allocated and the actual spending in part because of various procedures required.

The government has allocated 71.6 per cent of this year's budget for the first half, factoring in this usual gap. The government's target for actual budget spending is 60 per cent for the January-June period.

Last year, the government allocated 70 per cent of the budget for the first half of the year and ended up with an actual spending rate of 60.9 per cent.