The government has decided that emergency measures to shield the economy from the global financial crisis can be wound down now that growth is buoyant. But it said it will continue and even increase efforts to help the underprivileged, entrepreneurs and small businesses.
According to Minister of Strategy and Finance Yoon Jeung-hyun, Korea’s economy will grow 5.8 percent this year thanks to healthy exports and capital investment, which is higher than the ministry’s December estimate of 5 percent growth. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has also predicted 5.8 percent growth for 2010, higher than the Bank of Korea’s 5.2 percent projection or the International Monetary Fund’s 4.5 percent estimate.
“The figure is not a goal but an outlook,” Yoon said at a joint press conference with heads of other ministries at the government complex in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, yesterday. “Without special circumstances, we’ll be able to achieve 5.8 percent growth. It could be even higher.”
Local consumption and corporate investment are expected to grow 4.6 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively, and exports will increase 25 percent, the finance ministry said. The number of newly employed is expected to be 300,000 this year, 50,000 more than anticipated. Consumer prices are likely to rise 3 percent this year, with growing inflationary pressure.
The economy grew 8.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the highest among the OECD countries, and the government predicted a 6.3 percent on-year growth for the second quarter. Asked whether the government would implement an “exit strategy” from the emergency measures used to fight the global economic crisis, including a hiking of interest rates, Yoon said the decision will depend on the economy’s performance in the second quarter and will be made by the monetary policy committee.
Yoon, however, expressed concern that the poor were gaining least from the recovery. “The poor are usually the hardest hit by an economic slump but they are the last to benefit from economic recovery,” Yoon said.
To protect the less privileged, an increase in the rise of public utility rates will be minimized if possible, the ministry said. This echoes President Lee Myung-bak’s recommendation yesterday to economic policy makers.
Despite the common goal of helping the poor and reviving the economy, there were some differences between ministries expressed at the press conference. The finance ministry said earlier it hoped to allow for-profit hospitals in free economic zones but the health ministry said it would oppose such a move unless there are policies in place to prevent problems.
“If for-profit hospitals are allowed in the country, small hospitals in provincial areas could go bankrupt and there is a high likelihood of increases in medical bills,” said Jeon Jae-hee, minister of health and welfare. “The health ministry is drawing up policies to avoid negative outcomes but it has been very difficult. ”
The economic policies announced for the latter half of the year include:
* Providing jobs for young adults and seniors. The government will continue offering public sector jobs under the Hope Works program.
* Improving the social safety net.
* Finding growth engines.
* Lowering the income tax for temporary workers to 6 percent from current 8 percent.
* Encouraging mobile telecom carriers to charge fees on a 1-second basis instead of a 10-second basis to lower phone bills.
* Boosting health insurance coverage to include MRI scans and cancer treatment.
* Despite the depressed real estate market, the government will continue to enforce the loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI) rules on real estate loans to prevent household debt from growing too fast.
By Limb Jae-un [email@example.com]
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“5.8% 성장 전망 이뤄질 것 … 그 이상이 될지도 몰라”
윤증현 기획재정부 장관은 24일 정부가 5.8%로 제시한 올해 성장률 전망에 대해 “특별한 돌출변수가 없는 한 이뤄질 것”이라며 “아마 그 이상이 될지도 모르겠다”고 말했다. 그는 또 다주택·비사업용 토지의 양도세 중과 완화에 대해 “현재 용역 결과가 7월 말께 나오면 국토해양부 등 관계부처와 논의해 일몰 연장 여부를 포함해 제도개선 방안을 마련하겠다”고 밝혔다.
다음은 윤 장관을 중심으로 이뤄진 합동브리핑 참석자와의 문답.
-최근 부동산 시장이 침체돼 있다. 하반기에 금리까지 올리면 부동산시장이 더 어려워질 수 있지 않은가.
“금리는 경기회복 추세를 보고 정해야 한다. 올해 1~2분기 성장률이 참고가 될 것이다. 자산시장을 비롯한 물가 동향, 인플레이션 압력이 현실화할 소지가 있는지 봐야 한다. 금융통화위원회에서 이런 사안을 종합적으로 검토해 시기와 폭을 결정할 것이다. 부동산 시장은 거래가 실종되는 등 문제가 복합적으로 나타나 관계부처와 긴밀하게 (대책을) 협의할 것이다.”
-다주택·비사업용 토지의 양도세 중과제도 완화는 연장할 것인가.
“현재 용역을 진행 중이다. 7월 말께 결과가 나오면 국토해양부를 비롯해 관계부처와 논의해 일몰연장 여부를 포함해 제도개선 방안을 마련할 계획이다.”한글 기사 보기