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Roadmap and barometer

July 20,2017
The Moon Jae-in administration’s advisory committee on planning state affairs released an ambitious five-year plan on Wednesday. President Moon said it will serve as a road map for the nation during the remainder of his term. The 193-page package includes five goals of governance, 20 national strategies and 100 tasks to achieve them. The government first aims to embody the spirit of the “Candlelight Revolution” led by ordinary citizens that led to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye.

The 100 tasks cover a wide spectrum, including a transfer of wartime operational control of Korean forces based on a solid alliance with the United States, a reform of powerful government agencies, innovation of service industries to create quality jobs and establishing customized social welfare services, to name a few.

The plan reflects Moon’s campaign pledge to create 810,000 jobs in the public sector. To reform agencies in a democratic way, the government will set up a separate authority to investigate corruption among high-ranking officials and rearrange investigative rights between the prosecution and the police. To achieve inter-Korean reconciliation and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the administration plans to strengthen civilian-level cooperation, normalize operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and resume tours to Mount Kumgang if certain conditions are met.

We welcome the five-year strategy as it helps us understand where the administration is going. It will also serve as a useful barometer of its performance. It is also laudable for the government to divide the president’s five-year term into three stages according to certain priorities. For instance, the government seeks to introduce an autonomous local police system between 2019 and 2020 and tackle sensitive issues — such as the creation of 810,000 jobs in the public sector, a scrapping of part-time workers in the government, and shutdown of old thermal power plants — after 2021.

But the plan lacks concrete ways to fund many of its parts. Despite the government’s reassurance, a presidential candidate’s promise is different from a president’s.

One of the five goals of this government is, “Toward a government taking responsibility for people’s lives.” Some 32 of the 100 national tasks are related to that goal. Of course, welfare, education, day-care for children, the environment and safety are the government’s responsibilities. But a state cannot take care of all individuals.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 20, Page 26