Achieving regulatory reformPresident Park Geun-hye has grown impatient and assertive regarding the pace of deregulation. Chairing a meeting with senior secretaries, she likened redundant and unnecessary red tape to cancerous tumors that must be removed without hesitation. Then, in a meeting to promote trade investment and balanced growth, she said that tough words alone were inadequate to explain the multiple layers of regulations that choke and restrain development. She urged authorities to work with fiery patriotism and strong determination in order do away with unnecessary administrative red tape. They were rare passionate words from the typically soft-spoken president.
After several failures under past administrations, it is clear that regulatory reform cannot succeed without a strong will and drive. The president is itching for a showdown with those who are resistant to reform. She has unequivocally pronounced that she will stand at the forefront, putting reform of regulations as one of the items at the top of her agenda. At the same time, she is expressing displeasure with the government and bureaucrats for dragging their feet and not moving as quickly and proactively as she had hoped.
What matters is action. The president must shape her fiery passion and words into specific and concrete action plans with clearly defined goals. We hope to see some tangible results from a Monday cabinet meeting on the theme of regulatory reform that will be led by the president. We need a dramatic plan targeting not only administrative regulations that hamper corporate and market activities but also the chunks of constraints that interfere with the overall economy. The act banning companies from building and running industrial sites near the capital is one such constraint to growth.
To come up with such radical ideas, government agencies and bureaucrats first must change their mind-set. They need to abandon the belief that regulations are the authority and power of the government over civilians. Without such a dramatic transition in their beliefs and approach to regulations, we cannot expect sweeping moves and development in the areas of deregulation and liberalization.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 14, Page 30