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Economic Growth

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[Anchor Lead]The Bank of Korea again increased this year's growth rate projection to 2.8%, while freezing the benchmark interest rate due to increasing household debts and uncertainties in the domestic and overseas markets.[Pkg]The Bank of Korea raised the nation's growth rate projection for this year from 2.6% to 2.8%. The latest increase of 0.2 of a percentage point came only three months after the growth projection was upped from 2.5% to 2.6% in April. The figure reflected expectations about Korea's vastly improved export performance. Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol hinted that the growth rate may even go up further if the government's extra budget is executed.[Soundbite] Lee Ju-yeol(BOK Governor) : "I believe this year's growth rate would go up further once the extra budget is passed in the parliament and executed as the administration had planned."Korea's central bank, however, predicted that the government's target growth rate increase of 0.2 of a percentage point isn't likely to be achieved since the execution of the additional budget is being delayed. Also, the BOK was concerned that China's retaliatory economic measures for the THAAD deployment is dealing a bigger blow than expected on the Korean economy. Previously, the Bank of Korea's Monetary Policy Committee decided unanimously to freeze the benchmark annual interest rate at the current 1.25%. The Committee said, although exports and investments are improving, local spending is not increasing fast enough and the economic recovery has been rather slow to justify boosting the interest rate. Furthermore, if the interest rate is hiked, it would be even harder for households to pay back their debts. The central bank said that Korean household debt continues to grow sharply although the increase in mortgage loans has slowed down somewhat from last year.

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