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2017-11-02 16:59
National Assembly should weed out ineffective programs

President Moon Jae-in gave his second speech at the National Assembly Wednesday since taking office in May.

It is good to see the President making frequent visits to the Assembly, which reflects his will to communicate with all parties.

The main theme of the speech was the budget for 2018. The budget contains his main policy goals — to create more jobs and expand welfare.

The President started the speech by recounting the hardships of the so-called IMF crisis of the late 1990s when the entire nation struggled with mass layoffs and unemployment. Many people, particularly jobless young people, say things are harder today than they were 20 years ago. The youth unemployment rate peaked in August at 10.7 percent. Without a doubt, the first priority for the Moon administration in the coming year will be to ensure more jobs.

The national address came ahead of the government submitting its budget bill to the Assembly, requesting a 7.1 percent rise in spending to 429 trillion won ($383.9 billion) next year. President Moon explained that a steep rise in expenditure is necessary to create more jobs, particularly for young adults.

Even with the extra spending, however, it is uncertain whether his policies for job creation will achieve the desired outcome. Moon’s job creation policy is fundamentally limited because it is centered around expanding jobs in the public sector. This is not a long-term solution to easing the unemployment crisis and completely goes against the global trend of making civil service as lean as possible. Next year, the government will recruit 30,000 people for positions in the police, post offices and other state agencies. The Moon administration is hoping expanding jobs in the public sector will set an example for the corporate sector to follow. But that kind of thinking is unrealistic.

There were some other glaring faults with his speech. First, the speech was unbalanced. While focusing too much on building a “people-oriented” economy, there was not enough substance about how to promote investment and employment at corporations, the pillars of the Korean economy. Second, Moon’s speech lacked vision about how to prepare the nation for the new tech revolution and induce foreign investment.

The budget plan did have some positive aspects. The President’s focus on more support for soldiers and war veterans should be lauded.

The National Assembly should review the government’s budget plan meticulously. In particular, parts related to Moon’s job plans should be closely examined to weed out populist elements.

 

 

 

 

 

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