[EDITORIALS]Put a lid on the pork barrelThe government is announcing still more measures to boost the economy, and that makes us wonder again if policy is being subordinated again to the elections. The administration has or said it would cut corporate and luxury taxes, set up job creation programs and increase welfare payments for the lower and middle-income people here.
The stream of announcements seems to reflect the administration’s realization that Korea is one of the few countries in the world that is not doing well economically these days, so it is natural for it to try to revive capital spending and consumption. It should not delay economic help for Korean businesses until after the election or neglect the job of creating more jobs for low-income earners.
But because such policies have a downside as well and their effectiveness can be questioned, it appears to us that a lot of the programs are pork-barrel politics before the elections. The announcement of a “bad bank” to help credit delinquents appears to have been timed for its impact on the election.
In particular, plans to create jobs, the administration’s highest-priority issue, are coming in a steady stream from many ministries. Adding up the total number of jobs all those ministries say enthusiastically they are going to create, they amount to twice the total number of unemployed people here. Some of the plans have not been coordinated among ministries; others have been announced several times despite a lack of funding for them. Some even conflict with each other ― but still the announcements keep coming.
We have already seen serious side effects in the past of economic policies addressed with political logic. The largest stumbling blocks in the way of the Korean economy, credit delinquencies and household debts, are the results of political shows staged by the Kim Dae-jung administration that stimulated consumption rashly so it could claim that it had made the economy revive. And projects such as the Saemangeum land reclamation plan were approved because of political bargaining. National debt snowballed.
Before the April 15 elections, political parties are promising us the moon. If policies are flawed, they will not help the economy recover. Our economic team must stop such misguided activity.