The government announced a plan to raise electricity fee by 10.6% and gas fee by 16.2% from April next year, which is immediately after the presidential election, until the end of 2022. The plan came just one week after the government froze electricity rate for Q1 of 2022, amid growing concern for the state-run energy corporation’s huge deficit, which led the government to ultimately reverse direction to considerably increase in energy prices by revising the timing to after March 2022.
Although the need for electricity rate increase has been constantly raised since the second quarter of 2021, the government held out as long as it could until it finally fixed a time for the raise as instantly after the 2022 presidential election. The government uses the economic hardship of the self-employed due to COVID-19 as a lame excuse for covering up its intention to prevent the deterioration of public sentiment towards the ruling Democratic Party and its presidential candidate in the event that the government raises electricity prices before the election.
The government’s move reminds us of President Moon’s decision to provide cash handouts to every household right before the April 15 general election in 2020. This administration’s promise to create a total of 570,000 government jobs by earmarking budgets in January 2022―such an odd time of the year given that it is midwinter―, to extend the maturity date for loans for the self-employed, or to extend the due date for interest payments until March 2022 is criticized for having an intention to appeal to voters.
It is the next administration that shoulders the accumulation of public sector deficits that are currently being clamped down on by political motive. Needless to say, this will not only be a huge burden to the incoming administration, but it is also the fallout of the incumbent administration’s myopic decisions that are solely focused on winning the election at this time when the term is nearing the end.