Lawmakers must act on economy

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Lawmakers must act on economy

The Bank of Korea announced the Korean economy grew 3.3 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago. It added 1.1 percent from April to June, finally pulling out of the zero percent growth range for the first time in two years. The economy may have bottomed out and will mostly likely hit this year’s government growth target of 2.8 percent.

But consumer confidence remains downbeat. An economy growing at 2 percent won’t help most people much. It has hardly grown over eight consecutive quarters. The outlook for next year is murky due to uncertain and unfavorable factors at home and abroad. The U.S. economy remains unsettled and the Chinese economy is losing steam. Local conditions are worse. Consumers cannot afford to spend while trying to finance household debt nearing 1,000 trillion won ($940 billion). A pickup in capital investment also cannot be expected with companies struggling from worsening revenue and liquidity. The government’s 3.9 percent growth target for 2012 looks far-fetched. But in order for the people to feel economic improvement, the growth must be accelerated to at least 4 percent.

We need a breakthrough in these times of frustration and uncertainty. People need renewed hope. We have seen the example from our closest neighbor. The Japanese government and legislature have joined forces to rejuvenate and stimulate the economy. Japanese people and companies have begun to spend and brighten up. They are finally hopeful that a 20-year recession might be over.

We also need a boost in confidence. The legislature should be the first to change. It must stop wasting time and energy on political wrangling. Even if lawmakers have disagreements, they must exercise bipartisanship to aid the economy. It should first settle more than 100 pending economy-related bills. The real estate stimulus bill that includes removal of the double tax levy on owners of multiple homes has been neglected for six months. The basic law on service industry development also must be passed immediately to help increase jobs. The foreign investment promotion bill that includes tax incentives for companies drawing foreign investment, tax revisions to help start-ups and the bill to boost support for small and midsize business creation all require urgent approval.

No stimulus plans and actions are possible without laws. Lawmakers all cry out that their primary concern is improving ordinary people’s lives. But they are doing the opposite. What would it take for the legislature to do some decent work by contributing to help the economy?

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