Pyongyang discusses national challenges in parliamentary session without Kim

Seoul, Feb 8 (EFE).- North Korea held a significant parliamentary session, in which budgetary and national issues were addressed in the absence of leader Kim Jong-un, state-run news agency KCNA reported Tuesday.

The session was chaired by Choe Ryong-hae, currently regarded the number-two figure in the regime, who delivered speeches on both days of the session that ended on Monday.

The session had generated expectations among the international community of possible clues about the regime’s direction with regard to its defense policies after a series of missile launches in January – including its largest since 2017 – and hints about ending the moratorium on nuclear tests.

The meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly however, focused on budgetary and national issues, without addressing foreign policy, in what some experts consider an exercise of restraint by Pyongyang during the ongoing Winter Olympics in Beijing, its main ally.

During the two-day session, which was attended by deputies, members of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, ministers, local authorities and representatives of the armed forces, the fulfillment of the budget for 2021 was reviewed along with the budget for 2022 within the framework of the country’s five-year economic plan drawn up last year.

The speakers at the session “sternly analyzed and reviewed their successes, experience, mistakes and lessons in last year’s work, and suggested feasible ways to develop the work in the sectors and units in their charge as required by the policy,” KCNA said.

The regime, which was more isolated than ever in recent years due to the border closures that it implemented to protect the country from the coronavirus pandemic, acknowledged having faced “more difficult and complicated problems than expected” in the development of the economy in 2021.

Pyongyang attributed the problems “to the hostile forces’ persistent sanctions and worldwide health crisis,” but added that “the agricultural sector waged a high-yielding campaign despite persistent disastrous climatic conditions and short supply of farming materials.”

It also highlighted the progress made in the real estate and construction sectors, with the building of 10,000 apartments in Songsin and Songhwa in the northeast of the country.

Among other issues of national interest addressed during the parliamentary session were legislative bills to regulate child care and protect the rights and interests of North Korean nationals residing overseas. EFE


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