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Government’s shift of focus to job creation

Posted December. 26, 2017 08:32,   

Updated December. 26, 2017 08:57


The Moon Jae-in administration has announced it will shift its focus from eradicating corruption to stabilizing people’s lives and creating jobs next year. An official at Cheong Wa Dae said that such a move would be evident in the upcoming new year message from President Moon. Whereas this year was about righting the wrongs, next year, the government will focus on making people feel real changes in their lives, and to that end, President himself will roll up his sleeves, the official added. If well put into action, this would be obviously a more than desirable policy direction.

Since his inauguration, Moon has continuously stressed the stabilization of ordinary citizens’ lives and job creation. A bulletin board he set up at Cheong Wa Dae, which offers a quick summary of conditions in the country’s employment market, demonstrates the emphasis he and his government place on creating jobs. He has also underlined the importance of deregulation for businesses to make the benefits trickle down to people. Yet, the government’s efforts do not seem to be paying off for now. As of November, the overall unemployment rate and the youth unemployment rate of Korea rose only by 0.1 percentage point and 1 percentage point, respectively, from the previous month.

Meanwhile, President Moon’s ambitious policies to, for example, raise the minimum wage, cut legal working hours, and regularize non-regular workers, are now seeing side effects. Instead of achieving their intended purpose of increasing jobs for the socially vulnerable, the policies are prompting retailers to operate unmanned stores, stoking concern for small business and even job seekers. Still, such issues have not drawn much attention because of the high-profile investigations underway by a task force team aimed at rooting out accumulated evils established across several government ministries and agencies. Prosecutor General Moon Moo-il seemed to take into account the growing fatigue over prolonged investigations when he said he would try to wrap up the corruption probes within this year.

President Moon is understood to have ordered at a recent meeting at Cheong Wa Dae to convene a meeting early next year to discuss countermeasures against youth unemployment, saying, “The issue of youth unemployment may worsen in the future.” However, the government’s push and pressure alone cannot create jobs. The labor side should not only demand that businesses make a concession and voluntarily increase jobs while they are sticking to their own vested rights. Now is the time we need a grand social compromise between the labor and the management. President Moon also called for the grand compromise to create more jobs next year, asking the parties to trust the government at least for one year and make concerted efforts towards the end.

The high-profile probes into the irregularities and corruption are now being concluded. What should be the front and center of the attention next year is not corruption in the previous administrations but the country’s future direction and sources of prosperity. Financial inspection agencies, such as the Fair Trade Commission, the National Tax Service and the Financial Supervisory Service, should also concentrate on removing obstacles in the operation of businesses rather than regulating them. In the end, the goal of stabilizing people’s lives and creating jobs is to be fulfilled not by the government, but by the private sector and businesses.