The Office for Government Policy Coordination gave a briefing on the result of the government’s policies in 2018 at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in. Forty-three central administrative agencies were assessed in terms of six categories including job creation and the national agenda. Overall, the government presented a positive assessment of the policy direction, while acknowledging several policies such as countermeasures to an economic slowdown and fine dust fell short of expectations.
In the segment of job creation and the national agenda, which accounted for 65 percent of points, the government presented the increase of jobs in the public sector, the minimum wage hike, and a rise in wage and salary income due to the state’s financial support as key achievements. However, there seems to be a wide gap between the government’s perception and what people feel. The reason the government introduced the job stability fund for small business owners in the first place is because it had pushed ahead with the sharp increase of the minimum wage. In this sense, the government is distorting the reality and praising itself, when what it has actually done is to pour taxpayers’ money into addressing issues stemming from its failure to listen to voices on the ground.
Moreover, some have raised doubts that the job stability fund worth three trillion won has been offered by the government at random, even to people who are not eligible for support, in order to cover up the low participation rate. Under the current circumstances, what the government should be doing is to get to the bottom of the matter and explain. Even though the government spent 26 trillion won of taxpayers’ money last year alone, the number of the employed rose at the slowest pace since the 2009 financial crisis. Also, the country now faces an abnormal structure where jobs in the manufacturing and service industries decrease and only public sector jobs grow in number. The government’s celebrating job creation in the public sector, therefore, has made one embarrassed.
Still, the Ministry of Employment and Labor receiving the lowest grade in Tuesday’s assessment indicates that the government may reflect on its policies. The government admitted that it should have taken actions on the ground in a swift way to respond to the minimum wage increase and reduced working hours, but what should be dealt with is a related policy. It won’t change much if the government reaches only side branches, not the roots. Unless the government strictly looks back at itself and reconsiders its policies, the gap will only widen with no actual solutions.