Go to contents

Government Clashes with Gyeonggi Province on Deregulation of Metropolitan Area

Government Clashes with Gyeonggi Province on Deregulation of Metropolitan Area

Posted May. 08, 2005 23:31,   


The chasm between Cheong Wa Dae and Gyeonggi province over measures for the development of the Metropolitan and its adjacent area, which was designed to deal with the aftermath of the administrative capital relocation into the Chungcheong area, is further widening now.

Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan said, “Whether or not to give approvals to the establishment of high-tech business in the Metropolitan area is not an urgent matter we have to decide now.” Shocked by Lee’s remarks, Son Hak-kyu, governor of Gyeonggi province, citing the government’s promise on the deregulation of Metropolitan area, said, “We won’t support the government’s policies that have failed to meet its promise with the nation.”

Given current discrepancies among lawmakers of the Uri Party and government officials over the deregulation of Metropolitan area, this issue is expected to set off bitter public debate.

At a conference, which was held in the Central Government Complex last Saturday, presided over by Prime Minister Lee, to discuss issues on the development of Metropolitan area, Son left in the middle of the conference after having a harsh debate with Prime Minister Lee over whether or not to give approval to the establishment of high-tech business in the Metropolitan area.

Prime Minister Lee, Seong Kyoung-ryung, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Balanced National Development, Choo Byung-jik, Minister of Construction & Transportation, and Kim Young-ju, presidential economic policy secretary, have already showed their support for further examination on this issue, which, they view, is very critical in order to keep the pace with local development. In addition to foreign investment into high-tech industry, if we allow domestic conglomerates to launch business in this field, the original initiative for balanced national development will be seriously damaged. Prime Minister Lee stressed his discretion, saying, “No matter how much the president’s position is assertive, we will not follow him if it doesn’t make a sense.”

However, at the conference, Kim Jin-pyo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, Lee Hee-beom, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy, and Kim Gwang-lim, Vice Minister of Finance and Economy, demonstrated their support to Son’s stress on the necessity of deregulation and the establishment of new business in this area. Meanwhile, Governor Son held a press conference yesterday, in which he lashed out the government’s inconsistency, saying, “Even if foreign company 3M’s launching ceremony, which is scheduled on May 26, is illegal due to the government’s maintenance on regulation in this area, I will participate in the event because I believe that it is better to be an offender than be a international con man.”

On the other hand, some assumptions are arising in political field over the background of Son’s abrupt position change. Son, belonging to the opposition Grand National Party, has frequently have discussions with politician from the ruling party to talk about actions for the development of Metropolitan area since he showed his support on the relocation of administrative capital in March. However, he seems to recognize recently that it is not good for his effort to be a runner in coming presidential election.

Even lawmakers of the ruling party show a different view over this issue. Particularly among those whose districts are located in the northern part of Gyeonggi province, a relatively disadvantaged area, and those who have experience of working as economic bureaucrats, are discontented with the government’s hesitance on the deregulation.

Rep. Jung Seong-ho of the ruling Uri Party, whose district is Dongducheon-Yangju, said yesterday, “The reason of the ruling party’s defeat in the Pochoen-Yeonchoen district in the last by-election lies on its failure of reading the mind of voters in the northern party of Gyeonggi province,” adding, “Since there is no productive facilities in the northern part of the province, we should relax regulation as soon as possible and help the establishment of new productive facilities.

Meanwhile, Won Hye-young, policy committee chairman of the ruling Uri party, whose district is Buchoen, Gyeonggi province, said, “We have to take a stern action to enhance competitive power and to eliminate problems caused by concentration of Metropolitan area.”

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com