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Preventing a `disaster of pledges`

Posted December. 20, 2012 21:59,   


President-elect Park Geun-hye said, “I’ll take care of bread-and-butter issues, keep my pledges, and achieve national integration.” To stay true to her words, she must keep the pledges that she made to the people. In particular, "bread-and-butter" issues and grand integration are the tasks of the times reflecting the people’s hope. If she tries to keep every pledge she made in her presidential campaign, she could ruin the economy and make life tougher in the country.

Albeit less devoted than other candidates, Park stressed distribution, welfare and "economic democratization." She also made many welfare pledges such as free childcare for children up to age 5 and halving college tuition, as well as promises to cut household debts, guarantee a retirement age of 60, tighten layoff requirements, and giving temporary workers permanent jobs. She prepared a set of developmental pledges tailored to all municipal and provincial governments excluding that of Seoul. Her 400-page pledge book seems to be her blueprint for turning the country into a fantastic place where people can work the least and live in the most comfort in the world.

Park should revise exaggerated pledges she made to win votes. Korea’s sovereign financial conditions are better than those of certain developed economies, but the country has the world`s fastest-aging population. Demand for welfare has skyrocketed while tax revenues have declined. The Korea Institute of Public Finance said the low birth rate and rapid aging will make Korea’s sovereign debt ratio in 2050 comparable to those of Southern European countries that are reeling from the financial crisis. If a country’s fiscal health collapses, a slight external shock will devastate the national economy. Park should strike a balance between her pledges and fiscal conditions.

The president-elect has built her image as a woman of her word since 2009, when a dispute erupted over revising the plan to relocate government agencies to Sejong City. She would have won votes in the Chungcheong provinces by supporting the original relocation plan to Sejong City. Moving government agencies would cause administrative inefficiency, however, and possibly degrade the quality of policy services for the people.

Park`s responsibility as the next president will prove much more serious than the pledges she made in her campaign. Preventing a “disaster of pledges” is the way to go for the people and country. She should review the feasibility of her campaign promises and set priorities, and return to the drawing board before her inauguration. She should tell the truth and ask for the people’s understanding. These tasks are what she must do as head of state. An opinion poll conducted by the Healthy Finance Forum before the election showed that many people doubt whether her welfare pledges can be implemented and do not want universal welfare such as free childcare.