Implementation is the keyPresident Park Geun-hye’s economic initiatives for the year ahead are commendable, along with being tangible and effectively laid out. But theory and practice are different. A well-calibrated direction cannot guarantee success. As the president has to face tough challenges, particularly including the reform of the public sector, her economic pledges should be backed by strong determination.
The three-year economic innovation plan - epitomized by a $40,000 per capita national income, a 70 percent employment rate and 4 percent annual growth - is more palpable than the ambiguous catchphrase of her signature “creative economy.” The president also made the goals clear by fixing a three-year deadline and a course set for “innovation.” The three-year deadline appears realistic considering presidents have a single term of five years. “Innovations” translates into a refocus on growth and income in her second year in office.
President Park also presented a clear list of core tasks, featuring a colossal revamp of the public sector, the embodiment of a creative economy, and a boosting of domestic demand. Park seems to have taken pains to rearrange her economic priorities, as public sector reform was mentioned before “creative economy.” The huge 520 trillion won ($487.8 billion) of debt among public corporations already exceeded national debt at the end of last year - not to mention the rampant corruption and lax management revealed at Korea Railroad Corporation by the recent labor union strike. Even if the government hurries to reform the public sector, it will still take a while to rejuvenate the public domain and reduce its snowballing financial burden.
Despite previous administrations’ vows to reform the public sector, none has kept its promise due to the labor unions’ vehement resistance, election-conscious politicians’ compromises and the administrations’ lack of resolution. At her New Year’s address yesterday, the president stressed that her government would not follow previous administrations in just shifting tax burdens to the people. Park must keep her promise by setting a specific goal for reducing public debt and cutting the number of high-profile “parachute appointments” in public companies, by 10 percent, for instance.
The government took the right step by easing regulations in an attempt to boost domestic demand. Deregulation is the most effective way to make our economic pie bigger without financial input. The president has pledged to launch a ministerial meeting presided over by herself to closely check the status of deregulation under her administration. We hope the government makes a difference this time.