[EDITORIALS]An incomplete meetingPresident Roh Moo-hyun met with the leaders of big business groups and organizations representing the business community on Tuesday and pledged to take extraordinary deregulation measures to encourage investment. Leaders of the 15 largest business groups responded by saying that they would increase the amount of investment to 46 trillion won ($39 billion), 34 percent more than last year. Now we have the hope of seeing regulations that hindered investment being eased, and a foothold being provided for economic recovery due to increased investment.
But something was lacking in the meeting. First of all, we worry about President Roh’s views on business. He urged the businessmen to expand investment by saying, “Although businesses pursue the logic of making profits, I believe that you manage businesses with patriotic minds.”
This overlooks the fact that businesses pursue profits while playing by fair rules. When businesses are successful in their pursuit of profits, investment will grow, jobs will be created and workers will prosper. This is the way for businesses to be patriotic. When management decides that social responsibility is necessary in the pursuit of profits, it will emphasize social responsibility. On the contrary, if a businessman fails to manage his business after emphasizing patriotism, he will be a burden to the nation.
Mr. Roh also pointed out that the press and business organizations raised inaccurate and beside-the-point crisis theories in order to serve other purposes. But there are many businessmen who point out that the main reason investors avoid South Korea is uncertainty about the direction in which Korea is heading.
They think Korea is in a crisis situation where anti-business sentiment is high and future prospects are not clear. But Mr. Roh only sees it from the viewpoint that the press and business organizations are raising such issues to confront him.
The businessmen did not try to express their frank opinions and narrow the gap in understanding. Therefore, the expectation that the meeting could provide an opportunity to share a common understanding and help to overcome economic hardship was foiled. The president and businessmen must try again to find a way to understand each other.