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[Editorial] New Deputy Prime Minister Should Stop Election-Year Politics

[Editorial] New Deputy Prime Minister Should Stop Election-Year Politics

Posted February. 11, 2004 23:38,   


Although it was not the right way of doing government business to replace the deputy prime minister to allow him to run as a legislator candidate of the pro-president Uri Party, we still pin hopes on new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy Lee Hun-Jai. We hope he exhibits excellent leadership and a positive drive for policy making to address a mountain of economic issues in the short term, and strengthen the foundation for sustained economic growth in the long term.

The country’s economy is in a complex, structural and moribund stage of crisis. However, the regime’s ideological orientation impedes the response to unlimited economic competition on a global scale, when politicians, intoxicated with power, avert their eyes from genuine national interests and every part of society squabbles and squanders national energy.

In such a status quo, it is urgent to implement well-prioritized, concrete, synthetic and consistent policies in timely manner in order to revamp confidence in the economy at home and abroad. Lee strongly criticized the Roh government in April of last year for its pro-labor bias and untimely polices as well as its lack of policy transparency. As finance minister, he should not face a repeat of the same criticism. He should put all efforts into persuading politicians and all members of society to rid the country of any elements that hurt the economy and national interests. Within the government, he should go so far as to show “upward leadership” that can move the president.

With the National Assembly elections getting closer, he has to burst the bubble of populist, vote-peddling policy. The new economic team must not include electoral pledges in its policy package to meet the regime’s needs, despite the damage they can wreak on the economy. Four years ago when he took office as Minister of Finance and Economy three months ahead of the National Assembly elections, Lee said he would create two million jobs by 2003 and accomplish full employment. So, how are we doing today? He should stop twisting numbers. He has to break from the forced corporate policies and government-controlled fiscal policies under the Kim Dae Jung government such as forcing down the debt-equity ratio to 200 percent, or asset swaps.

With a variety of policy flavors by Deputy Prime Minister Lee, Labor Minister Kim Dae-hwan, Fair Trade Commission Chairman Kang Chul-kyu, and Presidential Economic Policy Adviser Park Bong-neum, the new economic team should not feed policy uncertainty like the old team did last year. Especially, President Roh should support the new team’s initiative in policy, instead of forcing them into his policy mold.