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Is it the Moon administration’s time to self-praise?

Posted December. 23, 2021 08:00,   

Updated December. 23, 2021 08:00


“Labor conditions have improved with an increase in the minimum wage and the introduction of the 52-work hour week system, the quantitative metrics of employment, such as the number of employees, has continuously improved, and allocation conditions have gotten better for four consecutive years,” said the Ministry of Economy and Finance in a written report of the new year’s key initiative plan to the president on the economic performance of the current administration for past four years and a half. Regarding its response to COVID-19, it said South Korea showed the fastest recovery among advanced countries.

There was no self-reflection about the failed real estate policies that doubled housing prices in Seoul. The report supports President Moon Jae-in’s statement to the public, which said, “South Korea should be proud of its achievements. Denying and disparaging such achievements goes beyond opposition against or criticism of the government and is the denial and disparaging of achievement made by South Korean people.”

In fact, South Korea’s growth of 0.9 percent last year is better than other countries. However, it is the result of the efforts made by the public and export companies, which complied with the government’s disease control measures, as well as the sacrifice of small business owners, rather than achievements made by the government. The country’s pace of economic recovery has indeed slowed down due to the government’s income-led growth policies that brought the national growth rate below three percent for two consecutive years before COVID-19, as well as its repetitive misjudgments, including a delay in COVID-19 vaccines supply.

In particular, job performance is far from something to be boasted of. About 220,000 day-laborers lost jobs for the recent two years due to the minimum wage that increased by 35 percent in the past four years and COVID-19. The rigid 52-work hour week system has pushed the workers of small and medium businesses whose income decreased to second jobs such as delivery, unlike the system’s goal to ensure free time in the evening for workers. What replaced part-time jobs for young people and manufacturing jobs for those in their 30s and 40s are 820,000 jobs introduced by the government this year for seniors.

Moreover, the negative effects of the failed economic policies have been postponed to the next administration. The national debt of over 1,000 trillion won will significantly limit the next government’s policy utilization. Due to a rapid increase in Korea Electric Power Corporation’s loss from an excessive push for nuclear power phase-out, the next government should consider increasing electricity prices.

Unlike the government that emphasizes ‘pride,’ Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling party, criticizes the current administration’s failed real estate policies and excessive tax and implies a potential adjustment to nuclear power phase-out policies. With four months left in the office, the Moon Jae-in administration should make efforts to reduce the public’s suffering caused by the negative effects of its policies, rather than telling itself that it had not failed.