SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in on Friday stressed the need to encourage retail stock investors here, in response to a strong backlash to the government’s announced proposal to expand South Korea’s capital gains taxes on equity investment.

“It should not be (implemented in) a way to shrink the stock market or discourage retail investors,” the president was quoted as saying by Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok at a press briefing.

Moon pointed out that the nation’s retail investors, often called “gaemi,” or ants, have played a role in propping up the local stock market amid the COVID-19 crisis, Kang added.

The finance ministry earlier announced a scheme to impose taxes of up to 25 percent on annual capital gains exceeding 20 million won (US$16,000) for retail investors starting in 2023.