[EDITORIALS]Pork-barrel policies

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[EDITORIALS]Pork-barrel policies

The government has announced a series of economic policies, with an eye on the gubernatorial and mayoral elections Thursday. Many policies are influenced by demands from interest groups and businesses that can mobilize plenty of voters or are related to candidates' election pledges.

A typical example is the recent government measures for providing financial support for the local transportation industry. The administration has decided to subsidize the industry by halving the financial burden resulting from the recent hike in gasoline taxes for transportation companies over the next four years. The decision is a reversal of a policy just eight months after the government announced that it would cut state subsidization of the transportation industry by 20 percent every year. The latest plan would cost the government 2.7 trillion won ($2.2 billion). We cannot turn a blind eye to the financial problems of these companies. Still, their problems are not recent ones, and the government knew that eight months ago.

The government also allowed credit card agents to visit companies to sign up new cardholders, just 15 days after it banned them from collecting new customers by visiting companies to prevent card firms from issuing too much plastic. Indeed, the ban itself was an excessive measure. Still, the government cannot avoid being blamed for reversing its policy in order not to provoke some 100,000 credit card agents.

In addition, the government has unveiled policies aimed at protecting the interests of specific industries or groups. Seoul has extended a temporary tax cut on passenger car purchases for two months and has decided to continue to provide payment guarantees for equity investments made by members of credit unions.

As we have repeatedly pointed out, it is the public that has to foot the bill for such pork-barrel policies. Ultimately, the money for subsidizing the transportation industry or the tax cut for automakers will have to come out of taxpayers' pockets. It is also questionable whether such pork-barrel policies will produce the desired results. The government and the voters should break this vicious cycle of election-year policies.
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