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Pork Barrel Policies Are Only a Hope

Posted February. 08, 2004 22:27,   


Government agencies seem to be competing to create jobs. The recently announced policies on welfare and employment are criticized for lacking substance and specific measures, such as how to secure resources.

There is growing criticism that these policies are pork barrel projects with general elections only two months away.

According to this newspaper’s analysis of each government agency’s policies, a total of 553,000 new jobs are likely to be generated this year, which means the number of jobless people will fall to 272,000, with an unemployment rate of 1.18 percent.

This figure is not realistic given the jobless rate of 2.1 percent in 1995 and 2.0 percent in 1996 when the economy was booming.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy announced it will create 350,000 new jobs. It turns out, however, that this figure includes 110,000 and 53,000 jobs to be created by the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE), and Information and Communication (MIC), respectively

The number of new jobs in IT and manufacturing sectors released by the MOCIE is also overlapping with those of the MIC.

Even the Ministry of Labor says it is reviewing employment policies, which were announced without coordination between government agencies in advance.

Some point out that the employment policy of the administration itself is more of a hope than a plan because it is based on two premises: expanding investment in the private sector and achieving an economic growth rate of five to six percent.

Other policies aimed at winning general elections include a special excise tax cut, a mandatory retirement age of 60, financial support of 200,000 won for child delivery, and simultaneous recruitment in 15 public corporations before the elections.

Chung Chang-young, economics professor at Yonsei University, warned that the policy focus on job expansion is desirable, but that shortsighted policies before general elections will ultimately undermine the national economy.