|Representatives from the ruling People Power Party, the central government and the Prime Minister's Office, hold a high-level discussion at the Prime Minister's official residence in central Seoul, Monday, to seek ways to restructure the central government. Joint Press Corps.|
By Ko Dong-hwan
Representatives of the central government, Prime Minister's Office and the ruling party on Monday discussed how to reorganize the central government according to the campaign pledges made by President Yoon Suk-yeol, including the shutdown of the gender equality and family ministry and the launch of a new agency catering to ethnic Koreans living abroad.
The high-level discussion at the prime minister's official residence in Seoul's Jongno District ended with the participants agreeing to "most of the subjects that were tabled," according to the ruling People Power Party's (PPP) spokesperson Yang Geum-hee. "The issues included what President Yoon had pledged (before being elected in last March)," she said.
The meeting was joined by the PPP's interim chief, Rep. Chung Jin-suk, its floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho and senior presidential secretaries.
The participants discussed shutting down the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family as well as the launch of a new space agency and another new agency dedicated to serving ethnic Koreans living abroad. The exact role of that agency remains unclear. The proposals were all pledged by Yoon while he was running for president.
Yang said that as soon as the central government and the party reach a complete agreement on the latest revisions on restructuring the central government, the terms will be proposed at the National Assembly.
"We'll take the proposals to the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea and take note of what they have to say," the spokesperson added.
Monday's meeting also focused on ways to address the chronic issue of late-night taxi hailers finding it difficult to grab a ride due to poor working conditions of taxi drivers.
|Officials from the Seoul Metropolitan Government help people get a taxi late at night on May 12 near Gangnam Station in Seoul. Hailing a taxi in the capital late at night became increasingly difficult after the number of cabbies dropped due to waning demand following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Yonhap|
The issue came to the fore after demand for taxis took a dive when the COVID-19 outbreak hit the country in early 2020, threatening drivers' livelihoods. Many of the drivers, either working for taxi companies or privately, left the profession to work as food delivery workers, demand for which skyrocketed during the pandemic. Even among those who still drive taxis, many are seniors and reluctant to work late at night, reducing the supply of taxi drivers around midnight and into the early morning hours. Also, late night taxi drivers often turned down many customers and accepted only those traveling long distances who pay more money, leading to complaints among the public.
One of the measures that was agreed on during Monday's meeting was to hike the fee for clients requesting late night taxis and arrange for the money to go directly to the drivers instead of going through taxi operating companies. Another measure was to deregulate the country's taxi industry by repealing the enforcement of mandatory days off for drivers so they can work as much as they want.
"The most imperative condition we saw in the meeting was the need to provide a good working environment for late night taxi drivers," said Sung Il-jong from the PPP's policy committee. "We also agreed to keep the current taxi services as unaffected as possible by our latest measures by not raising fees for daytime users, but only raising fees for late night taxi customers."
The meeting's outcome on improving the taxi service is to be announced by the transport ministry on Tuesday.