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Even Five Percent Growth Unlikely If Current Trend Continues

Even Five Percent Growth Unlikely If Current Trend Continues

Posted February. 18, 2004 22:49,   


On February 18, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy Lee Hun-jai said, “If current economic difficulties and slow job creation continue, it will be hard to achieve even five percent growth.”

During the interpellation session on the economy, the Deputy Prime Minister answered the question of members of the National Assembly as to what the growth goal of this year will be.

Although his answer was based on the assumption “if the trend continues,” this is the first time the head of the government’s economic team has mentioned the possibility of less than five percent growth this year.

So far, the government officials consistently insisted that the Korean economy will show five to six percent growth in 2004.

Deputy Minister Lee said, “That is why we must promote entrepreneurship and create more jobs” and predicted, “If we take these measures, the growth rate will be slightly over five percent.”

In regards to the credit delinquent problem, he emphasized, “Because of the possible criticism on our action as pork-barreling policy, the government has yet to set the announcement date, but we will present the measures as soon as possible. If we hastily announced them and they went wrong, the credit order could collapse.”

He added that the government plans to review the social system that stigmatizes those with debt as credit delinquents, and is mapping out various measures to prevent discrimination against them when looking for jobs.

In addition, he showed strong determination to stabilize real estate speculation by implementing property measures without delay and contain speculation in local areas from the initial stage with all-out support from the National Tax Service.

In terms of youth unemployment, he commented, “The government will do its utmost to establish a mid- to long-term system to predict the supply and demand of the workforce, pursue education policies that meet the needs of the industries, and lower the expectations of job-seekers.”

Jong sik Kong Seung-Heon Lee kong@donga.com ddr@donga.com