Four presidential candidates held the third TV debate and claimed that they are good at addressing economic situations. Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, said he would quickly execute the 17.5 trillion won worth of supplementary budget, which was passed on Monday, and proposed measures to boost share prices, such as the removal of stock exchange tax.
Yoon Suk-yeol, the candidate of the People’s Power Party shared an article regarding French President Emmanuel Macron’s withdrawal of his pledge for nuclear power phase-out on his social media account, adding that he will nullify South Korea’s nuclear power phase-out policy and build the country as the leader of nuclear power. Ahn Cheol-soo, the candidate of the People Party, is proposing ‘5-5-5 pledges,’ meaning obtaining five major super gap scientific technologies, growing five major leading global companies, and becoming a top 5 economic powerhouse. Sim Sang-jung, Justice Party's nominee, said she will completely revise the loss compensation to provide 100 percent compensation for losses experienced by small business owners.
While each candidate claims that they are the right person to boost the public economy, they are under criticism for lacking a sense of awareness for the challenges and crises faced by the public. Inflation has been recorded over three percent for four months in a row for the first time in 10 years and the cost of groceries and eating out have soared, adding a burden on people. Yet, there is no candidate who suggests a solution to deal with the inflation issue. The delivery service labor union of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which has been continuing a strike and unlawful occupation and causing extreme inconvenience to people, Lee and Yoon have remained silent.
The global economy is in an extremely uncertain situation. Small and medium-sized enterprises are wondering if they should keep operating their plants due to the rise in raw material and parts prices while large companies’ profitability has worsened, causing a loss in the overall trade balance. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine became imminent, South Korean companies in the countries are becoming anxious, to which the presidential candidates are not paying attention.
If South Korea fails to deal with such internal and external issues in a smart way, the country’s economic rate is forecasted to fall below two percent in five years. Soaring housing prices and export companies’ great performance enabled the tax collection of more than 60 trillion won last year, but tax revenue is likely to decrease due to downturn in the asset market and increasing unfavorable external factors to companies. Still, the presidential candidates who are not showing significant interest in important economic issues are asking for votes based on welfare pledges that will require hundreds of trillions of won of tax. The candidate should realize that people need a president who will carefully assess economic problems facing the public and propose solutions, rather than increasing national debt and providing free money.