중앙데일리

President Contrite On Reforms' Pace

Dec 27,2000
Giving his last news conference of the year on Wednesday, President Kim Dae-jung admitted that the government had lacked "speed" and "depth" in carrying out economic reform during last three years.

"The economic reform program, to date, has been problematic in terms of pace and scope. Since early last year, many from abroad advised us to carry out a strong economic reform. But we did not heed such advice," Mr. Kim said.

He said that the government had been too confident after it accrued a sufficient amount of foreign reserves in the nation's central bank, a confidence that led to the failure to fundamentally overhaul structural inconsistencies, inefficiency and corruption.

The president apologized to the public twice during the news conference.

"I cannot suppress the feeling of guilt when I think of homes broken after its fathers or mothers have been laid off," he said. "The macro-indicators are good, but the real economy is too bad to put into words."

Mr. Kim added that the government will push ahead, at all costs, to complete reform of the financial, corporate, public sector and labor by February.

He expressed commitment to seeing through the second phase of financial restructuring as bank union members, despite being forcibly dispersed by the police Wednesday, pledged to continue their fight by not reporting for work.

"Reform of the financial sector is in the final stages. The success of this reform is vital," Mr. Kim said.

He refused to comment on the pending reshuffle of the cabinet and the rumors of a merger between his ruling Millennium Democratic Party and the minor United Liberal Democrats. The merger would give the ruling party a majority in the 273-seat National Assembly.

On the question of whether a postponement in the visit by the North Korean titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, means a delayed visit to Seoul by Kim Jong-il, Mr. Kim said that he will be discussing the time of the visit with the North in the new year.

Kim Yong-nam, president of the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly, was scheduled to visit the South early this month to pave the way for the North Korean leader's visit in March.

On a rumored visit by U.S. President Bill Clinton to Pyongyang, Mr. Kim said that "the timing makes it difficult to pin hope" on the proposed trip. Mr. Clinton leaves office in late January.

by Kim Ji-soo




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