[EDITORIALS]Hasty remarks on housingTalk is in the air about the government’s measures to cool real estate speculation. It is understandable that the measures sparked controversy among Koreans whose chief concern is the continuing rise of housing prices. But the sight of government officials reversing their positions and making careless remarks is rather unbearable.
Kim Gwang-lim, vice minister of finance and economy, on Thursday reversed his statement that the ministry would not adopt a backup plan should housing prices remain relatively unchanged. Mr. Kim later said the ministry would consider a backup plan. On the same day, Kim Jin-pyo, deputy prime minister and minister of finance and economy, withdrew his remark that except socialistic policies, there is no stronger anti-speculation measures than those taken this time.
Such attitudes reflect a lack of confidence in the policies the officials presented. Even a child could understand that drawing up backup plans means setting an initial target for eliminating the bubble in the housing prices and, then, adopting an additional plan should the first set of policies fail to meet the goal. The officials should keep in mind that hasty remarks harm the credibility of the policies.
We question whether the government gave the fullest consideration to these measures. At the last minute, the government added the measure of forcing people who sold a house in speculation zones to report actual prices. It failed to arrange necessary measures for the adoption of the report system, such as tax rate adjustment to reduce tax burdens and administrative means to prevent false reports.
Yesterday, the government rushed to announce the details of property tax increases. It tried to scare speculators by emphasizing huge property tax hikes in some cases. It does not help to scare speculators; speculation-driven real estate purchases will fall naturally if property taxes rise.
For the anti-speculation measures to be effective, the government should present a detailed timetable and a means to encourage floating money to turn to other sources of investments. Scaring the people to meet its goal is the worst idea of all.