[EDITORIALS]Pull together, economistsWhen economic policies lack consistency, the market and the public suffer the most. That is why consistency is put before the merit of economic policies and close coordination among economic teams is required. When the economy is in a near-crisis, as it is these days, consistency becomes imperative.
But the cacophony among policymakers after the launch of the new government betrays our expectations. Disagreements between President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jin-pyo, vice prime minister and the minister of finance and economy, over the cuts in corporation taxes and arguments among other financial figures in delaying investigations of illegal internal transactions among subsidiaries of jaebeol are a few examples.
Prime Minister Goh Kun said last week that he would slow down the investigation by the Fair Trade Commission into the unfair internal transactions of large conglomerates, taking into account that there is high uncertainty in the economy because of the issues related to the North Korean nuclear program or the looming war between the United States and Iraq. But then the head of the anti-trust agency said that there will be no changes in the investigation’s timetable for the second quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Ministry of Planning and Budget are projecting different tones about increasing spending to confront the economic slowdown.
Confusion is tolerated, and somehow expected, to a certain degree in the beginning of a new administration. But such confusion must be confined to the inside of the administration. Coordination must be made within the government, and government officials have to speak in one voice to the outside. The repetition of such confusion is proof that there are problems in policy coordination.
The public does not want to see any confusion or conflict from the government economic teams. What is essential as well is that the new government and its economic team fully understand the current economic situation and confirm to the public that existing difficulties can be overcome.