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Calls for a course change

Nov 06,2018
Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Park Yong-maan has openly attacked the government’s slowed deregulation pace and its relentless push for the controversial “income-led growth” policy. At a meeting with the largest Korean business groups’ leaders, Park complained that his requests for deregulation were not met on 39 occasions. “On the part of small business owners, it seems to have reached the level of infringement of basic rights of entrepreneurs,” he fumed.

Park urged the administration to change its income-led growth policy, which has been under attack for its unproven concept of spurring economic growth by increasing the demand of low income workers and households by raising their wages. “Instead of forcing the private sector to bear the mounting cost of distribution, it is better for the government to increase the budget for the social safety net,” he stressed.
Park also brushed off the government’s attempt to boost the economy by increasing spending as a “stopgap measure.” The administration must pay heed to the business group’s hostile reaction as it has been relatively supportive of the Moon Jae-in administration’s policy direction.

Such complaints are not new. The corporate sector has repeatedly called for deregulation since the launch of the liberal administration in May 2017, though nothing has changed. Bureaucrats have only dilly-dallied on the issue, citing opposition from both interest groups and civic groups. Despite analysts’ projections that as many as 370,000 jobs can be created if the government eased back on regulations in the medical sector, there is no sign that for-profit hospitals or telemedicine will be allowed.

The government is sticking to its income-led growth policy. In a speech to the National Assembly last week, President Moon underscored his determination to press ahead with it, a sentiment echoed by his policy chief Jang He-sung at a recent meeting.

The administration promised to create 270,000 jobs by drawing 80 trillion won ($71.2 billion) in investment from companies at home and abroad to free economic zones. We hope the government sincerely reflects on what it has been doing so far if it wants to repair the damage and truly create jobs for the people.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 6, Page 30