[EDITORIALS]Kwon’s confusing remarksKwon O-kyu, deputy prime minister, said that even though a deficit of $1.4 billion is expected in the current account balance next year, the figure is relatively small. What he means is there is nothing to fuss about over $1.4 billion.
Mr. Kwon is looking at the situation too lightly. It is not the size of the deficit that is disturbing, but the drift of the current account balance nearly a decade after the financial crisis in the late 1990s.
A balance of international payments is something hard to recover once it turns to deficit. The financial crisis in the late 1990s came about because the current account balance has accumulated since the mid 1990s. It would be embarrassing if the comment that Mr. Kwon made came from not understanding the seriousness of the situation. But it would also be discomforting if the comment were made while he knew the seriousness of the situation, but decided to ignore it.
On the Mount Kumgang tour, Mr. Kwon said it is difficult for the government to make orders for businesses not related to the government to continue or discontinue.
He added that the government cannot stop a business when there are demands. The Mount Kumgang tour began under the Kim Dae-jung’s administration’s Sunshine Policy.
And the tour has been in business under this government’s engagement policy. This is a fact that everyone knows. Yet Mr. Kwon, while suddenly stressing market principles, said it is not the government’s place to intervene in private business.
The remark Mr. Kwon made regarding the expansion of Hynix Semiconductor’s plant is also confusing. He said, “The government will be held irresponsible if a company does not invest after receiving approval from the government.”
Although it is unclear if Hynix will expand its plant, it basically sounds as if the government will not approve the plant expansion. It was not too long ago that Woo Eui-jei, president of Hynix, said that since investment timing is necessary in the semiconductor industry, the plant expansion should be made. Whether Mr. Kwon failed to hear Mr. Woo’s plea or simply refused to listen to the request, since the deputy prime minister didn’t want to approve the plant expansion, is something we will never know. The economy is struggling while the North Korean nuclear situation surfaced. Simply put, it is a time of crisis. One thing that is clear is that the deputy prime minister should not treat the situation lightly by interpreting every crisis to his advantage.