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[Editorial] Even ruling party criticizes economic policy

[Editorial] Even ruling party criticizes economic policy

Posted January. 11, 2001 20:37,   


Rep. Kim Won-Gil of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party was thrust into the spotlight when he harshly criticized the government's economic policies as irrational. As a notable economic expert whose opinions are shared by many, Rep. Kim and his views deserve due attention. The government is also encouraged to pay heed to his critical view.

Rep. Kim openly attacked the economic ministers on their policy failures in a lecture at a fraternal association on Wednesday. His remarks should be taken to heart, as they are not merely intended to undermine the ministers.

First of all, he was right to point out that the government put too many nonviable enterprises under workout programs, thereby leaving the programs open to abuse. The government also kept alive many moribund firms through deferment of their debts, as was done during the previous Kim Young-Sam government. Despite the fact that many banks became insolvent after providing loans to enviable enterprises and thus sparked the financial crisis, the incumbent administration is committing similar mistakes, such as invoking excessive workout provisions that could repeat the mistakes of the previous regime.

As has been repeatedly pointed out, enterprises without a competitive edge must be evicted in accordance with market principles. The irregular policies that the government recently undertook with respect to the Hyundai Group could hardly garner public support, as it is almost certain that any policy failures will result in serious negative aftereffects.

President Kim Dae-Jung's viewpoint regarding economic stimulation policies is a matter of great concern. It is somewhat inconsistent that the President said structural reforms should implemented before economic boosting measures. He made the remarks as if to suggest the advisability of simultaneously implementing the two contradictory policies. Kim's metaphor that doses of painkiller or tonic need to be injected to serious patients to restore their health could be interpreted as his intent to postpone classification of enterprises with a chance of revival. It is the market but not the government that decides the viability of business firms.

In this connection, noteworthy is Rep. Kim's statement that the question of what needs to be done to implement a market economy has been entrusted to men who don't know. Kim rightly pointed out that as soon as the economy turned for the better, the government showed signs of reverting to an anti-market economic policy stance. In this manner, the market confidence in the government has been degraded. His point of view is that the government's preferential policy approach to nonviable enterprises must be liquidated.

President Kim's economic philosophy of mass participation is the cornerstone of his drive to foster the balanced development of market economy and democracy. However, the reality is that even ruling party lawmakers dare to criticize the present economic policy line as anti-market.