Go to contents

Lack of Urgency in Policymaking

Posted February. 20, 2010 08:43,   


President Lee Myung-bak blamed government officials Thursday for their lack of urgency at a meeting on job creation. He said government reports contain nothing new because they are drawn up by elite officials who never have to worry about job security. The president apparently wants public officials to do more to tackle the unemployment problem instead of presenting useless reports.

This is not the first time for President Lee to speak out like this. After a briefing by the Strategy and Finance Ministry shortly after taking office, he said, “Public officials take the same attitude since their status is secure though the country is in a crisis,” adding, “You should work with the same mindset as employers, who worry about paying wages to their employees.” It is regrettable to see President Lee repeat what he said two years ago.

The Labor Ministry presented at the job creation meeting a plan to hire 90 job counselors by Wednesday. The counselors will work for a shorter time but receive the same treatment as government workers. Shin Yeong-cheol, a ministry official in charge of employment policy, said, “The work of two full-timers will be done by three part-timers.” This job-sharing policy had been presented after the global economy crisis erupted in 2008. Instead of repeating how many jobs it created with the budget allocated, the ministry must devise polices to promote job creation and action plans.

Samsung Electronics announced yesterday that it will hire 10,000 researchers by expanding research facilities at its factory in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. At least one trillion won (862 million U.S. dollars) is needed per year to pay such a large number of new employees. LG Display’s LCD complex in the northern Seoul suburb of Paju and that of Samsung Electronics in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, are the results of the strenuous efforts of both companies to survive in the market. Had the previous administration not hampered and delayed such efforts with regulations, the effects of investment on job creation would have been much bigger and come faster. Officials of the incumbent administration are little different from their predecessors who imposed regulations instead of giving practical assistance to business.

In the 1970s, Deputy Prime Minister Kim Hak-ryeol, who took the lead in Korea’s economic development, would ask an official in charge of price controls whether he knew the price of a white radish. If the official didn’t know, Kim criticized him and ordered him to go to a market to get the answer. Few government officials know how much a day laborer at a construction site is paid these days. Business has turned much more complex than in the past, so officials cannot solve the lack of jobs crisis without seeing the problem firsthand. Making a few changes to previous policies does not work.