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Listen to advice

May 04,2019
Last month, President Moon Jae-in invited former economic policymakers to the Blue House to listen to their words of wisdom. One participant advised the government to shift its policy focus to boosting employment rather than raising wages because the government’s income-led growth policy has not been successful. Employment-led growth would not be that complicated. He suggested that jobs would immediately increase if the government subsidizes employers with overtime payment.

Another guest said the income-led growth may have helped half of the population, but hurt the other half. There were also criticisms about the empowerment of unions and the government’s pro-labor policy. Economic veterans expressed similar concerns last month.

Some demanded more attention on economic problems and a correction to the government’s policy of phasing out nuclear reactors. They said that an “energy mix” or “incremental shift in energy ouput” would have been better wording over “nuclear phase-out.” Veterans of economic and social affairs alike asked why the government wants to change policy direction. The president and his aides must contemplate why so many are concerned about the economy.

There were also urging President Moon to be more willing to address the ever-worsening division of our society. He was advised to step in to end the legislative deadlock by persuading the opposition. He must not stand up for a certain ideology but engage people from a broad spectrum of views. Some also suggested that the government must stop digging up past wrongdoings to focus more on present and future affairs.

President Moon, however, was stern on his position that any wrongdoings committed in the past must be punished. He remained committed to past issues despite the worsening economic conditions and severe social division. He also did not answer whether he would consider the idea of shifting away from income-led growth policy.

But he said he did not agree with the black-and-white dichotomy and promised to make judgments based on common sense and practicability. Hearing out different voices from society is wise. But more importantly, he must put these wise words into action. He must accept what he has heard if he does not want to let such advice go to waste.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 3, Page 30