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The commissioner’s arrogance

Nov 07,2017
Kim In-ho, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association, criticized the Moon Jae-in government for its lack of business knowledge. The economy can run and prosper when it respects enterprises responsible for creating jobs, income and welfare. Only pro-business countries can flourish. The government speaks of the free market and competition, but what it does is getting in the way of competition, Kim underscored.

“The biggest problem of our government is that it has not given serious thought to business,” he said.

Lee Dong-geun, vice chairman of the Korea Chamber of Industry and Commerce, also relayed the concerns of the business community during a meeting between Fair Trade Commission head Kim Sang-jo and representatives from the top five conglomerates. “The government’s pro-labor policy is killing small and mid-sized enterprises,” he told Kim. Many are suffering because of the sudden hike in minimum wage, cuts in working hours and expanded base salary scope. He added that the government knows too little about business conditions.

The government should not brush aside their comments as complaints from a retired bureaucrat or representative of a business lobby group. It must check itself from excessive meddling and better reflect industry voices in polices. After meeting with executives from top five business groups, Kim told a cabinet meeting that he has scolded chaebols. Bad practices should be corrected, but at the same time chaebols must be appreciated as valuable assets and contributors to the economy.

Could it have been only talk when Kim said he did not mean “forced changes from chaebols but voluntary ones”? After their meeting, Kim and executives of five business groups posed in front of the cameras shouting “fighting” in forced smiles. The picture may reflect the reality of the Korean business sector — entrepreneurs being lectured and scolded by government authorities.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 6, Page 34