[EDITORIALS]Follow through with city projectEight regions from around the country have turned in their applications for a model industrial city project. Four of these regions will be chosen by the end of June. The government is viewing the main criteria for the project as essentially just how “backward” the region is. The more economically lagging the region is, the more the project’s effects will show.
However, the most important criteria in choosing an area should be whether it is capable of following through on long-term plans for industrial development. The reasons previous policies for balanced development in the country failed should be considered.
The proposals by local autonomous groups should also be reviewed in respect to their compatibility with the national land policy and their environmental sustainability.
Profitability should also be a standard of judgment so as to prevent the heads of the local autonomous groups from using the project for their own political purposes. The proposals submitted by the local governments seem to concentrate mostly on fostering tourism to those areas. The government should ensure that there are no unnecessary overlaps and make the selection process transparent to prevent any conflict. If the cities are chosen for political reasons and not for their business prospects, the industrial city project is bound to fail.
The fundamental reason that industrialization has been concentrated heavily around the capital city area and our country has been unable to achieve regionally-balanced growth is that there is a shortage of jobs. It is also because the overall environment ―including educational, medical and cultural infrastructure ―is poor in regions outside Seoul. Therefore, the success of the industrial city project will depend on how much the government relaxes regulations concerning the establishment of such diverse facilities.
Especially, the government needs to actively support businesses that properly distribute profits from the project. That is how it can persuade businesses from transferring their manufacturing plants overseas in search of lower labor and land costs and fewer regulations. The government should implement diverse measures to ensure that the businesses profit and that they follow all the way through on the industrial city project instead of quitting midway.