[EDITORIALS]Focus on the economyReporting on an Asian Develop-ment Bank report on South Korea’s economic outlook, Dow Jones news wire said that the bank had lowered South Korea’s 2004 growth estimate to 4.4 percent from 4.8 percent, noting that the South Korean government has lost track of the key agenda needed to revive the economy.
According to the bank, “The focus of recent reforms has been more on socioeconomic concerns, such as increasing transparency in the conglomerates, improving wealth distribution, upgrading labor conditions and strengthening the social safety net.” It also said that the change in focus has unsettled the business community.
Looking around at the mess we are in, it seems that the bank’s analysis is right on target. Despite various inducement policies, businesses and consumers still feel uneasy and the recovery of investment and consumption is not clear. There is gloomy news all around; a high unemployment rate, high prices and the forecast of even worse economic conditions next year. The bank raised the growth estimates of other Asian economies, including China and Malaysia, but it lowered that of South Korea again.
What drove South Korea to this desperation? It is because our national energy is wasted on unnecessary issues. Even when the government and businesses unite and concentrate on the economy, it is not easy to win amid fierce international competition. But the economy is put on the back burner and the whole nation is engaged in such ideological disputes as rectifying the wrongs of history, the capital move and the abolition of the security law. Unwittingly fanned anti-business sentiment and antipathy toward businessmen discourage the spirit of entrepreneurs.
There is a need for reform and redistribution of wealth. But timing is important. Now is the time to make a pie big enough to feed all of us, not waste resources. If we lose this opportunity, we will remove hope for the future.
Before it’s too late, we must correct the priorities of state affairs. We must put aside empty ideological struggles and disputes over the past and concentrate on reviving the economy. The bank suggested that “to reestablish confidence and revive investment, the reforms should refocus on economic efficiency and productivity.” This is the way forward. Why waste time? Let’s get on track and save the nation.