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Park’s scream

Jan 04,2018
Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had been a regular visitor to the National Assembly. He ran around until his feet hurt, but few pay heed to his pleas on behalf of 170,000 member enterprises. He met with legislators five times last year and his words fell on deaf ears. “I feel like yelling to them,” he said in his New Year’s address.

He did not ask for favoritism, but requested the lifting of old regulations so that Korea Inc. could be better positioned on the global stage. Korean enterprises cannot push ahead with new technologies and improve their competitiveness by converging old with new industries because of layers of outdated regulations. In his report to the National Assembly and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, he said over a half of the world’s 100 most innovative enterprises would not be possible in Korea due to regulations.

But the liberal administration under President Moon Jae-in is reluctant on deregulation, believing such move would only help large companies, and is entirely engrossed with achieving an income-led growth policy by raising hourly minimum wage to 10,000 won ($9.40) as soon as possible. “Speed is the biggest strength of Korea Inc., and yet the National Assembly is killing it,” Park said. Korea has more regulations than China, Park lamented.

The Korean economy has been recovering at a better-than-expected pace entirely because of external demand on semiconductors. Once the chip boom ends, the economy will bare all its weaknesses due to delayed restructuring. The Trade Ministry estimated that export growth will slow to 4 percent range after last year’s 15.8 percent gain. If exports lose steam, Moon’s economic policy driven by fiscal expansion cannot work. The time has come for the government to re-examine and adjust its economic direction and strategy.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 3, Page 30