[EDITORIALS]It's Simple: Reform, Deregulation

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[EDITORIALS]It's Simple: Reform, Deregulation

Korea's economy grew less than 3 percent in the second quarter. The slowdown was expected but is still shocking. Why are we in such a bad situation? The result makes us reflect on what the government and private sector should have done and should not have.

What makes us gloomy is not simply the slow economic growth, but that the prospects for an upturn are so poor. A recovery in the U.S. economy, to which Seoul had been looking forward, is not forecast to come until next year, so the increase in Korea's exports and investment will be postponed until then.

We cannot understand why problems that can and must be solved are still not being addressed, with the danger that they will become even bigger as time goes on.

The media and economic experts have repeatedly said Korea must spur structural reforms to resolve the problems that are crippling some of our large companies and thereby shackle any economic recovery. They have also reiterated the need for deregulation to boost investment and exports. The government repeatedly said it would do so.

But Seoul has failed to put its words into action, perhaps because of the impact of restructuring and resistance from those to be restructured, or because of the public sentiment that deregulation means an end to controls that prevent large conglomerates from dominating the economy. Even the few policies that have been agreed to by the ruling and opposition parties and the administration have not progressed much.

We can no longer trust the government's commitment to structural reform. When the government repeats that the global economy will recover soon and that the situation is not so gloomy, we have come to suspect that it is trying to pass the task of restructuring to the next administration.

The government cannot continue with this irresponsibility and lack of conviction. We believe that if the government told the public the realities of the current economic situation, it would be able to persuade the public of the urgent necessity of reform. It must recover public trust in its policies by implementing, with boldness and without faltering, at least what it has vowed to do - restructuring and deregulation.
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