Look at the feasibilityPresident-elect Park Geun-hye needs to start getting cautious when it comes to putting her campaign pledges into action. Since Lee Han-koo, floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, raised the issue in late December, his argument is gaining momentum. In a nutshell, Park needs to set priorities among her promises by taking into account the government’s fiscal health, our economic situation and the feasibility of her vows.
Her promises are going to burn through a massive amount of the government’s budget, particularly her welfare commitments. The president-elect said that her administration will be able to secure the necessary funds by reducing unnecessary government spending and increasing tax revenues. But political pundits say those amounts will be totally insufficient to cover the immense costs. The incumbent government expects the real costs of her pledges to be double the Saenuri Party’s original calculations.
We pointed out that some of Park’s pledges - including one to write off a maximum of 70 percent of household debts by establishing an 18 trillion won fund for “people’s happiness” - lack practicality and feasibility.
Of course, the best thing would be if presidential candidates came up with practical pledges. In our political culture, however, they can’t resist the temptation to present overly rosy promises, like Park’s last-minute pledge to cut the mandatory military service period to 18 months. Implementing such hurried promises is hardly possible or prudent.
Park’s transition team still vows to execute all her campaign promises to maintain her image as a sincere politician. No one argues against sincerity. But Park must implement her promises only after first setting some priorities.
The Kim Dae-jung administration vowed to focus on reforms of four major sectors: Finance, industry, labor relations and the public sector. It ended up not touching the last category at all. The Roh Moo-hyun administration approached the issue aggressively through an ambitious road map of over 100 items, but it ended up a “Mission Unfinished.”
A determination to keep 100 percent of campaign pledges during a five-year term is, basically, too much. Though she needs to keep her word, Park’s campaign platform was not engraved in stone. If a reckless pursuit brings about unwanted side-effects, that’s more serious than a breaking of a promise. Park must review the degree of urgency of her pledges and be more reasonable. That’s the route to a successful, not merely a sincere, presidency.