North Korean legislature held its third session on April 12 in the absence of its Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un who was earlier present at a Politburo meeting. According to state news agency KCNA, the lawmakers approved the state budget which increased the health expenditure by 7.4 per cent and education expense by 5.1 per cent as compared to the last year.
While the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, the agency reported that 15.9 per cent of the total state budgetary expenditure is expected to be spent on national security. It added that last year’s expenditure for increasing the capability of national defence which contributed to the development of an “ultra-modern weaponry system”.
During the Politburo meeting, members reportedly discussed on thorough state measures for saving the citizens from the pandemic that has claimed around 115,000 lives worldwide. According to KCNA, the Politburo discussed the coronavirus pandemic while cautioning that such an environment can become a condition creating some obstacles to our struggle and progress.
North Korea has not reported a single case of coronavirus case so far which the Politburo reportedly called a result of country’s top-class emergency anti-epidemic measures from the outset. Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that it has been receiving weekly updates from the health ministry and the country even has the capacity to test coronavirus in its national reference laboratory in Pyongyang.
Earlier, North Korea’s senior health minister had also insisted that the country is free from coronavirus saying it does not have a single case of the disease. Pak Myong Su, director of the anti-epidemic department of the North’s Central Emergency Anti-Epidemic Headquarters, said that North Korea sealed its borders late January, shortly after the coronavirus outbreak news emerged from neighbouring China.
According to the WHO website, North Korea, Lesotho, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan have not reported a single coronavirus case. However, several foreign experts have raised doubts over the veracity of report from North Korea, which shares a border with China and South Korea.
(With agency inputs | Image source: AP)