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Empower Kim

Jan 31,2018
Kim Dong-yeon, deputy prime minister for the economy and finance minister, defended the government against the criticism that its policy is often out of tune and uncoordinated. In a post on his Facebook page, he complained that the media cites quotes from officials out of context and publishes misleading headlines.

It is laudable for the economic chief to try to communicate with the public. But despite his defense, government policies have been confusing. Kim last summer repeatedly said the government is not considering hiking the property tax after ruling party leader Choo Mi-ae called for it to do so as an effective means to rein in runaway prices in the overheated housing market. Setting its economic policy direction for this year, the Finance Ministry said it would study the possibility of raising the property tax. The government has yielded to the order from the Blue House and ruling party.

Demands from the liberal ruling power have led to half-baked policies. The sudden push in the minimum wages and housing market without considering the downsides have caused broad side effects. Yet we do not sense any footprint of the deputy prime minister in these measures. He cannot make his voice heard under the overweight of the president’s aides. The Blue House placed the Justice Ministry in charge of policy on cryptocurrency and later referred it to the Financial Services Commission after the minister’s controversial comments about shutting down exchanges.

Moon now gets a monthly report from Kim, but it will be meaningless if the deputy prime minister merely takes orders from the president. The economy should be left to the economic policy chief. The president should empower Kim and give him full authority on economic affairs to allow him to coordinate different government offices and spearhead policies after thorough study and discussions.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 30, Page 30