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Listen to others

June 09,2017
The new administration, which pledged to be different from the past by doing away with domineering and unilateral decision-making, is doing the opposite. The planning and advisory committee, the acting transition team, said that it will no longer meet with officials from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning because the ministry has failed to come up with a plan to axe the 11,000 won ($10) basic wireless network fee off of monthly bills as promised by President Moon Jae-in during campaign. Ministry officials are befuddled as to how they have angered the transition team.

The planning and advisory committee has a good reason to be tough on the issue. Basic mobile charges are monopolized by the three big wireless carriers. The three rake in fixed income of 7 trillion won to 8 trillion won a year from charging customers to use a basic Internet connection at the expense of consumers. The companies argue they need the funds for infrastructure investment, but consumer rights groups claim upgrades to existing infrastructure do not require that much money every year.

The state naturally has to interfere. But blind execution of campaign promises could generate side effects. Companies may have to scale down on their new recruits due to the demand from the government to shift irregular jobs to permanent payroll.

The order to suspend the construction of nuclear reactors also has caused disorder.

The promise to up the minimum wage to 10,000 won worries a number of self-employed merchants across the country.

President Moon Jae-in’s economic agenda cannot be sustained under such a shortsighted push. Its domineering force could disrupt and dampen market order and activities. The government must persuade — not push around — companies. Kim Jin-pyo, head of the committee, said the planning team had to debate rigorously with the ICT ministry to find a solution to the problem.

But a debate should be conducted in two ways. The committee must listen to the ministry in charge of the wireless policy as well as the companies. Moon’s economic agenda could stumble if it is rushed and forced.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 8, Page 34