[EDITORIALS]Face the economic realityThe government is bogged down in a political quagmire as the economy continues its downward spiral. The growth rate is falling, the unemployed are flooding the streets and housing prices are skyrocketing, but the government has yet to find a solution. The governing party and the Blue House blame each other, adding to the public anxiety already stoked by the North Korea nuclear crisis, delays in state-led projects and suspicions about the integrity of the government and its key members.
Amid such chaos, Koreans are unlikely to increase their investment or consumption; this is evident in consumer sentiment, which has been deteriorating for two months. No one can expect the economy to recover amid these mounting uncertainties. Still, no one in the administration or the governing party steps up to claim responsibility; instead, they excuse themselves and say there are no problems. Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan even said the government is “stable and operating well.”
Is it really?
As housing and land prices skyrocket amid misguided policies to control prices and development, the prime minister is saying the administration is better than any of its predecessors at controlling real estate prices. A key official in the Construction Ministry even blamed real estate agents, saying that too many of them were making it hard to implement policy. No one is willing to correct matters fundamentally; instead, the government creates turmoil with every new measure, whether for real estate, small business or merchants in traditional markets.
Prime Minister Lee says the economy is recovering, and that the recovery will be seen everywhere later this year. But Finance Minister Han Duck-soo warns of a long-term recession like Japan’s, while central bank chief Park Seung says the pace of recovery felt by consumers will be less than expected. It is hard to expect government policies to be implemented well, since its own officials have mixed outlooks about the same economy.
It is time for the president and the prime minister to accept reality and address the hopes of the people. Full-scale changes are needed within the administration. The people who caused the crisis must take responsibility, and new people who can enact the much-needed reforms must be found.