[EDITORIALS]Ego and controlThe controversy between the Uri Party and the administration over the abolition of the investment ceiling on conglomerates has become a conflict among government ministries. Earlier, the Blue House and the Fair Trade Commission said they opposed the Uri Party’s bid to abolish the investment ceiling if there were no viable alternative.
After that, Chung Sye-kyun, the minister of commerce, industry and energy, announced that the ministry would promote the abolition of the regulations; and Kim Seok-dong, deputy minister of finance and economy, said, “The investment ceiling on conglomerates could be abolished without conditions.”
The Fair Trade Commission, however, maintains its opposition to the abolition of the ceiling without a viable alternative. So the debates on the issue at the fourth meeting of a special task force for modernization of the market economy set for today will get even hotter.
We have repeatedly emphasized that the administration must abolish, without conditions, the investment ceiling earlier than scheduled if it sincerely wishes to increase the amount of investment. We have also pointed out that the cross-affiliate investment regulations that the fair trade watchdog is considering introducing will probably suppress corporate investment further. But the commission seems to have no intent to loosen the reins on regulations.
There are two problems in the controversy over the investment ceiling. One is a biased view that the abolition of investment regulations is not an easing of a regulation but a special favor to big businesses. With such a distorted view, the government cannot draw up a measure that can ease regulations in practice. Another is the group egoism of government branches that consider regulation as a source of power. If the cap on conglomerates’ shareholding is abolished without an alternative, not only will the commission’s jurisdiction suffer, but the watchdog’s influence on businesses will be reduced.
In the background of the continued insistence of the watchdog on the need to check the structure of corporate governance, even though its main job is keeping an eye on fair competition, it seems clear that the logic of protecting the organization’s self-interest has worked to a certain degree.
If that is the case, it would be better to transfer the debate on the abolition to a council that can deliberate on it without ministerial bias or to put it under the discretion of the president.