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Pres. Lee Urges More Preemptive Action to Fight Crisis

Posted January. 09, 2009 04:22,   


President Lee Myung-bak convened the first session of the Meeting for Emergency Economic Measures yesterday morning in an underground bunker connected to the presidential office.

He had earlier announced shifting his administration into emergency mode this year to tackle the worsening economy.

"We need more meticulous and preemptive countermeasures as the real economy will highly likely fall deeper into stagnation," he said. “I urge all ministries to work closely together to draw up countermeasures.”

President Lee also mentioned the conflict between the Bank of Korea and the Finance and Economy Ministry when he was a lawmaker in the 1990s. “It occurred due to lack of understanding about each other and the selfishness of ministries," he said. "But this must not recur at this moment of emergency or a national crisis.”

He also urged conglomerates trying hard to secure cash and dollars to promptly pay subcontractors to contribute to revitalizing the economy in the spirit of a win-win situation.

President Lee also warned against the effects of misleading statistics, saying the government must come up with countermeasures by closely examining market conditions instead of using “armchair” theories.

The emergency meeting was comprised of 20 senior officials, including Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo. Also attending were non-regular members such as Knowledge Economy Minister Lee Youn-ho and the ruling Grand National Party’s top policymaker Yim Tae-hee. All major economy figures of the government and political parties were present at the meeting.

At the discussion, Knowledge Economy Minister Lee urged strong measures to help cash-strapped small and medium-size enterprises, whose financial situations are expected to worsen around the Lunar New Year`s holidays starting Jan. 25.

Sakong Il, a presidential aide on the economy and former finance minister, said "Policymakers should draw up countermeasures based on a thorough analysis of the sector."

After the meeting, President Lee visited the new “economic war room” inside an underground bunker to encourage its staff, including fiscal affairs deputy chief Lee Soo-won.

On the war room, presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan quoted the phrase “The buck stops here” popularized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, adding, “The Meeting for Emergency Economic Measures is where government policies to overcome the economic crisis are fine-tuned and finalized.”

On setting up the meeting room inside an underground bunker, the spokesman said, “This was because we could not find another suitable place and all the telecommunication facilities are located there. Some say this is a maneuver to purposely create a crisis atmosphere, but that’s a misunderstanding.”