Jan. 19 (UPI) -- North Korea's budget increased at a lower rate for 2021 than last year at a session of the Supreme People's Assembly on Sunday, according to Seoul's unification ministry.
South Korean news services MBC and Yonhap reported Tuesday that the ministry said North Korea increased its budget by 0.6% for 2021, down from a 1.1% increase for last year.
South Korean authorities also said the estimated size of the North Korean budget was about $8.47 billion in 2019, citing Bank of Korea statistics, according to Yonhap.
The statement from the South Korean government comes after KCNA reported Monday that the regime held its 14th Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang to discuss the country's five-year economic and budget plans.
During the one-day event Sunday, policies were drafted in accordance with Kim Jong Un's five-year plan, according to North Korean state media.
On Tuesday, South Korean unification ministry sources said North Korea's strategy is "maintenance and reinforcement" of current policies. "Self-reliance" and "self-sufficiency" is at the heart of Kim's five-year plan, Seoul said, according to reports.
"It seems that the budget expenditure plan was prepared under this stance," the Seoul source said, according to News 1.
North Korea's discussion of budgets at the state level has been accompanied by calls from state media urging ordinary North Koreans to "solve the economic issue with urgency."
Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun also said Tuesday that with the new five-year plan, the party aimed to "achieve a continuous rise in the economy and a marked improvement in people's lives."
In 2020 North Korea shuttered its borders in response to the coronavirus pandemic and suffered losses after typhoon and heavy rains destroyed farmland and upended villages. Kim has previously acknowledged the setbacks North Korea faced in a pandemic year.
The Rodong said Tuesday that the main task of the new five-year plan is to promote "economic revitalization" in heavy and light industries.
During the Eighth Party Congress earlier this month, Kim said that a 2016 five-year plan had failed to revive the economy -- a rare statement for the North Korean leader.