[EDITORIALS]Choking in red tape

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[EDITORIALS]Choking in red tape

The number of restrictions facing our companies reported by the Korea International Trade Association shows just how many absurd domestic business restrictions there are. Among the examples are the mandatory display of art works at a quay closed to the general public and the limit on floor space of a start-up factory to 500 square meters (5,400 square feet). These regulations do not help anyone, but only place an unnecessary burden on our companies and inhibit their activities. Rules whose mere existence is questionable are hidden all over the place, and civil servants are refusing to give business authorizations in some cases in the name of rules and regulations.
The government has even created a Regulatory Reform Committee to eliminate hundreds of regulations annually, but with so many strange rules still in place, we wonder just what kind of regulations the committee has removed. Because the body has retained most of restrictions that companies want removed while getting rid of minor details, the effects of the regulatory body’s work have not been visible. That is, the committee is working on a different agenda and failing to do what companies want it to do.
The Finance Ministry asked the trade association to find corporate restrictions that may be difficult to spot at first glance. The trade body discovered 293 regulations it deemed unreasonable, and informed the ministry that 42 of them should be abolished immediately. The ministry promised that it would heed the trade association’s request in most cases.
But some of the key restrictions will not likely be loosened any time soon. Examples are the restriction on building factories in the capital region, including Incheon city and Gyeonggi province, and not allowing for-profit medical institutions. The reason for the stalemate is either that the ministries and government agencies involved cannot narrow their differences or that opposition from interest groups is too strong to overlook.
If the government cannot deal with problems of this nature, it will be difficult to expect any sort of broad loosening of regulations in the future.
Another problem is that restrictions on corporate activities are being lifted one by one, instead of being loosened all together. Of eight major restrictions that the government promised would be relaxed, none has been removed completely.
Instead of pouring tax money into creating new jobs, the government must loosen restrictions on businesses. Jobs will follow.
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