[EDITORIALS]Take the chains off big businessDoes the Fair Trade Commission recognize the business community as its partner in dialogue? The revised regulation dealing with investment ceilings on cross-affiliate shareholdings makes us wonder whether the watchdog agency is turning a deaf ear to business. The commission claims it has relaxed the regulation, because the number of companies under its surveillance has decreased. But the appeal from business to remove obstacles to investment has not been heeded.
The business community asked that the investment ceiling be applied only to large conglomerates, so that medium-sized business groups can make more investments. But the commission insisted on imposing it on conglomerates with more than five trillion won ($4.85 billion) in assets. Nowhere else in the world is there a regulation that limits investment in this way. If the commission intends to keep it, then it should at least balance out the application criteria. But to the contrary, the clause that exempted companies with low debt ratios from regulation has disappeared. It means the criteria are decided arbitrarily by the commission.
When the Fair Trade Law was revised and the class-action lawsuit system was introduced last year, the business community’s demands went mostly unheeded. The accumulation of government actions is like a shackle on business activity. Recent policy toward big businesses, and remarks by officials, suggest that the commission still sees businesses as untrustworthy.
The Uri Party’s new leadership presented a reasonable plan. Floor leader Chung Sye-kyun said, “We can consider relaxing the application criteria in a realistic way.” The party’s chief policymaker made similar remarks. The government and the Uri Party have decided to enact a bill that exempts past book-rigging from class-action suits for two years.
Private sector investment is what is urgently needed ―particularly from major conglomerates, with their financial capacities. When foreign companies conduct their business free of restrictions, limiting the activity of domestic conglomerates by imposing investment ceilings makes us wonder for whom the government works. The commission must listen to the business community and relax the application of investment ceilings. And the National Assembly must unshackle businesses by suspending class-action suits over past window-dressing. Then our economy will be revived.