+ A

Ditch the duplication

May 25,2017
Kim Dong-yeon, a nominee for deputy prime minister for the economy doubling as finance minister, began work at a temporary office set up in downtown Seoul. He has been briefed by departments of the finance ministry and is preparing for a confirmation hearing at the same time.

President Moon Jae-in also named Chang Ha-sung, Korea University economics professor, as his chief adviser on policymaking and seated Kim Gwang-doo, who advised former President Park Geun-hye on her economic agenda, as the second highest man after the president at the newly created National Economic Advisory Council.

Strengthening the brain power behind economic policy-making suggests how the new administration is eager to come up with the best solutions to boost the economy and hiring. But too many high positions on the economic policy-making team raise questions about its effectiveness. The roles and work could overlap and end in policy confusion.

The role of the senior secretary for job creation under the Policy Office in the presidential office could overlap with the presidential committee that has just been established to create jobs. Moreover, as Lee Yong-sup, vice chair of the committee under the president, is a heavyweight figure who had previously served in ministerial posts, he could have a bigger say in the process of creating jobs in the public and private sectors.

Other policymaking roles also are hard to differentiate. It is unclear what makes the senior secretary for economic affairs under the Policy Office at the Blue House and the economic adviser to the chief of the Policy Office any different. Of course, restoring the Policy Office and strengthening the presidential advisory team can help generate innovative ideas through competition. But overlapped roles and work could be wasteful. The ship can go astray if there are too many captains.

Balancing the mixed pool of talents and brains is pivotal to the success of the economic policy of the Moon administration. Teamwork among conservative Kim Kwang-doo, a nominee for deputy chairman of the new National Economic Advisory Council, and liberal scholars such as Chang Ha-sung, the president’s chief adviser on policymaking, and Kim Sang-jo, a nominee for chairman of the Fair Trade Commission, among others, is essential.

Most importantly, Moon must not forget that he promised to leave governance up to cabinet members.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 24, Page 30