[EDITORIALS]Businessmen make us richThe Korean economy shows signs of degradation. Stock prices nosedive and numerous economic indicators point downward. Corporate investment sentiment and consumer confidence are frozen. Concerns arise over the possibility of a prolonged economic slowdown, with industry observers warning that the sluggishness in the domestic economy is excessive even in light of rising international oil prices, a worldwide economic slump and North Korean nuclear issues. Meanwhile, companies lie low, trying to see how the wind blows.
Why? We believe the biggest reason is business anxiety over the policies of the incoming government. The Federation of Korean Industries recently expressed "deep concerns" over the reform policies of the new administration, such as introduction of class-action lawsuits and expansion of inheritance taxes. "With potential growth weakening, implementation of new policies may discourage corporate operations," the business organization said. In response, the presidential transition committee asked if the business community were undertaking collective resistance. The friction is rekindled.
The Korean economy faces a worse situation than ever. It is uncertain that we can weather the difficulties even when government, corporations and the public join force. It is a national tragedy that the new government and the business community waste time and energy fomenting distrust.
President-elect Roh Moo-hyun recently made a few attempts to reduce business anxiety, which were not too effective because they lacked consistency. Continuous confusion in the policies of the transition team and untimely comments by some legislators add insult to injuries, raising companies' concern. The incoming administration must be aware that behind the lethargic companies, cold markets and flight of domestic and foreign investors from the stock markets lurks such anxiety and distrust. The new government, above all, must ditch its hostility toward business. Those who can make us rich are not politicians, scholars or bureaucrats. They are businessmen. The new government must pay more attention to the voice of business. It must send a concrete message of reassurance.