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[Editorial] What the Fair Trade Commission for?

Posted December. 21, 2006 06:54,   


“Businesses undergo restructuring to survive, while the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) strengthens regulations in order to survive.”

This is an acute criticism of businessmen who are tired of observations of the FTC.

“Professor-turned-FTC chairmen such as Kwon Oh-seung and Kang Chul-kyu failed to take control of the organization, and failed to downsize it,” pointed out businessmen. In short, the FTC is making new regulations to justify the oversized organization.

“Although companies such as Samsung and Hyundai Motors are owned by individuals, they have national traits,” said Chairman Kwon in relation to investment cap for large companies in their affiliates and other companies. His remark was a blow to business investment sentiment. Even worse, the FTC does not seem to be aware of the global market environment. It ruled M&A of corporations as against the anti-trust law, and was subjected to administrative litigation. Regulations are expected to further tighten as the FTC is recently planning to have an indefinite right to track accounts that do not require warrants. Our competitors around the world are pursuing small and effective governments while our FTC is strengthening regulations.

Then, are the workers of the FTC clean? The Seoul branch of YMCA filed a complaint with the prosecution asking for a public inquiry of the relationship of JU and the antitrust body. The FTC allegedly revised the related law for the favor of the JC. The victims of JU claimed damages, saying, “Damages were bigger because the FTC failed to do its role.” The prosecution started investigations into the FTC’s involvement in the JU scandal. An executive of the FTC was already arrested for receiving 50 million won in bribes from JU in the law revision process.

These are not all of the FTC’s misdeeds. When it was investigating into the head office of Hyundai Motors about illegal inside dealings with its affiliates, it was offered gift certificates. It held a meeting on whether to receive them or not and decided to take them. Other public servants say that they are ashamed of the FTC.

FTC workers often land a job in private companies and law firms with high wages after retirement. This is not irrelevant to the organization’s regulation tightening measures. Former workers of the FTC are preferred because lobbying the antitrust organization is needed. Recently, former executives of the FTC are recruited by law firms representing companies that are in legal proceedings against the FTC on fines. This is the evidence of the black connection between former and current members of the organization. A lack of professionalism and decisions made on irrational grounds are the typical problems of the antitrust body.

Speculations that FTC’s misdeeds are closely related to the loyalty toward the government are gaining weight. The antitrust body has been degraded as a loyal servant to the government by overly exercising its power in restraining small and medium-sized newspapers, and in return the organization gained power and became a monster that antagonizes businesses and market, and balance and common knowledge. It seems almost impossible that we are trying to revitalize the Korean economy without doing anything about the organization.

Businesses are stacking up money and do not make investment, and this is directly related to individual bankruptcy cases amounting to 100,000 a year. A vicious circle is created as lack of corporate investment leads to lacks of decent jobs, and decreased purchasing power. The problem is getting serious by the day, but the people at the FTC are doing nothing, and the only the thing that they are doing with taxpayers’ money is strengthening regulations. This may give the organization more power, but it is poisoning our economy. If the government continues to protect the antitrust body, then the people should unite in reforming and changing the organization just like YMCA Seoul branch did.