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Health and Welfare Minister Kim Geun-tae Expresses His Opposition to Government-led Plan.

Health and Welfare Minister Kim Geun-tae Expresses His Opposition to Government-led Plan.

Posted November. 19, 2004 23:03,   


Health and Welfare Minister Kim Geun-tae’s remark on Friday caused a ripple effect within the administration after he confronted the government`s plan to mobilize the pension fund, including the national pension fund, in order to protect the right of management for local companies and apply it to “Korean-style ‘New Deal’ projects.”

“More thorough assessment and discussion are needed regarding where to use the national pension; the outcome of 50 million Koreans’ efforts,” he said at in a statement at the Health and Welfare Ministry’s website, indicating his strong opposition to the government’s plan to invest the pension fund for other purposes.

The minister warned, “We haven’t come to a final conclusion on the fund’s operations since there have been many discussions about various aspects. Using pensions for other purposes can jeopardize the foundation of the system.”

The fact that the minister, seen as a next presidential hopeful, officially opposed the government-driven project led by President Roh Moo-hyun made it inevitable to reassess the government’s plan to invest pension funds in social overhead capital and revise other related laws including the fund management law.

Some anticipated that the minister’s remark might lead to the early onset of a power struggle within the ruling party in consideration of the next term of office since the remark came when many were asking for all-out reform in the management style of the current administration.

Mr. Kim said, “I think economic ministries are rushing too much. If they rush their plan, people will be suspicious of the project, which might cause negative effects on the national pension plan itself. Therefore, economic ministries should return to their old advisory position of supporting the Ministry of Health and Welfare.”

“The Health and Welfare Ministry will fully abide by its three principles in managing public funds, and its priority is security,” he assured. “We will help the Pension Fund Management Committee to exert its independent rights and responsibilities in their decision making, fully considering people’s sentiments.”

“The operation of the national pension will be processed with people’s consent under any circumstances. I would do that no matter what happens,” he added.

Young-Chan Yoon Jong-Hoon Lee yyc11@donga.com taylor55@donga.com