Posted March. 14, 2005 22:12,
Han Duck-soo, the former director of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, was appointed to be the new finance minister and deputy prime minister. Though domestic consumption is on the rise, there still are other problems at hand, such as the value of the won and the hike in overseas raw material prices. I hope Han will put together policies with proper reasons to increase the credibility of the market and to utilize the current recovery potential to bring revitalization to the economy.
Han once said in May, the only reason businessmen play along with public servants is because they fear being out of their favor. The remark must have stemmed from his own experience in the field. President Roh is now having get-togethers with business leaders more easily, and that is a good sign. The economy will be revitalized only when the president and the deputy prime minister examine businessmens hardships and needs with an open mind while setting up policies that reflect the aim of the market.
Particularly, I hope the deputy prime minister will not be swayed by political logic. With only a few days to go until elections, there is a high chance that the governing party will be tempted to entertain hospitable policies beyond their means and promote an artificial economic recovery. However, when the deputy prime minister decides to ride along with this sentiment as well, the side effects and the after shocks are bound to be multiplied. If we forget the lessons learned over the last couple years and are swayed once again by clumsy attempts at distribution and reforms, the investments for the future will dwindle, and growth potential will shrink away as well. Meanwhile, promoting flexibility in the labor market and reforming the pension plan cannot be left neglected any longer.
The government should stop blaming others. Blaming weak investment and consumption on an anti-reform conspiracy is only undermining the governments credibility. Introspection should be done within the government to examine the problems of industrial policies and fair trade policies. The inverted discrimination that prevents domestic corporations from doing business with their own money while promoting hostile mergers by foreign capitals with various benefits, should be eradicated. The restrictions on the ceiling of financing and the limitations on the voting rights of financial affiliates should be reviewed as well.
Deputy Prime Minister Han should report to the president about economic conditions as they are and be the center of the Finance Ministry as the leader of a team. When the president rolls out uncoordinated policies, the deputy prime minister should be able to give straightforward advice to the president about the problems, and the president must give power to Deputy Prime Minister Han.