Biz Leaders Expect New Govt. to Pursue Growth, Fiscal Sustainability, Conciliation
KCCI Chairman says “There will be a great conciliation by reinventing in a society studded with divisions surrounding classes, generations, and ideologies’
(from left) Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and
Industry; Kang Bong-kyun, former minister of finance;;
and Park Jong-soo, chairman of the Korea Financial Investment Association.
Business leaders and economic experts call for the new government, to be inaugurated on Feb. 25, to come up with policies to give more opportunities through growth and ensure conciliation beyond class, generation, and ideology.
Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said, “My hope is that there will be a great conciliation by reinventing in a society studded with divisions surrounding classes, generations, and ideologies that loomed large during the latest presidential election.”
“Sohn said he expects President-elect Park to be a successful president who will gain public confidence by presenting a profound future vision and policies and by guiding the nation through further national development.”
As to President-elect Park’s public pledge on economic democratization that appeared during the presidential campaign period, the KCCI chairman said he shared the view with Park on its necessity in the process of heading for a fair society. But Sohn noted the need for taking a cautious approach, saying, “The issue of economic democratization should be taken into account together with economic growth.” He called for the new government to take a cautious attitude, lest it should undermine corporate competitiveness and hinder investments and economic growth.
“The national economy is in a downturn. There should be policies to turn around the economy. There are mounting fears that the nation might enter a long-term, low-growth era, as Japan has done. We have to focus on securing potential growth not only right now, but also in the long-term perspective,” he said. To do so, he said, the new government should provide support so that companies can boost investments and create jobs.
In a recent interview, Sohn said public pledges on welfare were spouted out during the latest presidential election campaign. The problem lies in how to secure funds, but taxes should neither be raised nor should fiscal sustainability be undermined, said the chairman, adding that growth and welfare should be balanced so that boosting growth and creating jobs can lead to the improvement of welfare.
Korea has seen national competitiveness rise in the rankings in the past few years, and the market economy and the creativity of the private sector should be respected to further raise the rankings. R&D activities should be invigorated on top of nurturing new growth engines.
The next government should attach top priority on boosting domestic demand and front-load government spending. The moribund housing economy should be rekindled to maintain liquidity flow, he said.
“There may be a way of nurturing tourism and service industries, and the introduction of for-profit hospitals should be allowed to capitalize on Korea’s rich and excellent medical resources,” Sohn said. Korea attracts just 110,000 patients annually, compared to 700,000 visitors to Singapore and 1 million visitors to Thailand.
Kang Bong-kyun, former minister of finance, believes that the national economy is in a crisis. The new government should come up with a supplementary budget to boost domestic demand and issues related to economic democratization should be handled in the context of creating jobs. Fiscal sustainability should be ensured, however. Promoting welfare without raising taxes is not realistic, so the-soon-to-be president should draw up a big picture to ensure fiscal sustainability during her five-year term as the low-growth rate era facing the nation makes it difficult to see tax revenues rise. Korea should take stakes on the growth of China and should build infrastructure to attract the rich Chinese.
Chairman Han Dong-woo of the Shinhan Financial Group said given the unfavorable business conditions, the government should recognize the significance of the financial sector, which carries more weight under conditions of gloomy global and domestic economies, and come up with financial policies in that context.
Park Jong-soo, chairman of the Korea Financial Investment Association, said Korea is in a watershed of wether the nation can continue growth or decline. If Korea enters an era of $30,000 or $40,000 per capital income beyond the $20,000, the nation should proactivley nurture such service industries as the financing industry, he said. To do so, Park said, the National Assembly will have to approve an revision of Act on the Capital Market in order to foster investment banks. Reinvigorating the capital market is the precondition for nurturing SMEs and start-up companies.