Red tape forum touted by gov’t

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Red tape forum touted by gov’t

The Blue House immediately embarked on follow-up steps after a seven-hour discussion Thursday on how to cut Korea’s red tape.

The forum on deregulation was held at the Blue House Thursday and attended by 140 ministers, government officials, entrepreneurs and experts. It was broadcast live nationally.

“President Park Geun-hye said she is grateful for those businessmen, government officials and citizens who attentively watched the forum till late at night,” said Min Kyung-wook, a Blue House press officer, in a briefing yesterday. “She added she will do her best to see those issues pointed out during the forum resolved as soon as possible, helping to create more jobs and revitalize the economy.”

Throughout the forum, which stretched from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., speakers from various sectors of business posed problems and explained their own difficulties with government regulations. Attendees ranged from leaders of large corporations to a venture capitalist, film director, private equity fund operator and even a galbi (Korean barbecue) restaurant owner.

Experts added their opinions and officials explained the current rules and how regulations may be lifted or modified. President Park interposed at random, asking questions and at times reprimanding officials.

The main opposition Democratic Party warned that the government’s campaign to deregulate should maintain appropriate boundaries.

“It is good to lift bad regulations, but getting rid of good regulations is a bad thing,” said Kim Han-gill, DP chairman, in a supreme council meeting at the National Assembly yesterday. “The thorn under your nails should be extracted, but if you remove traffic lights on crossroads, a series of massive disasters will follow.”

(Business regulations that appear minor but put a huge burden on smaller companies have the nickname “a thorn under the nail” in Korea.)

Kim offered several examples. The savings bank bankruptcy scandal, which hurt 100,000 people, was the result of the government’s easing of restrictions on loans, he maintained, and the credit card bubble, which produced 3.2 million delinquent borrowers in 2003, came after the government lifted ceilings on cash advances.

Jun Byung-hun, floor leader of the DP, criticized the president’s perception of the National Assembly, citing her remarks that excessive legislation needs to be controlled. “She was degrading the legislative body by saying she would limit lawmakers’ activities,” Jun said. “I wonder whether that idea can be considered normal.”

Han Jeong-ae, a spokeswoman with the DP, claimed President Park was taking advantage of the televised forum as an opportunity to publicize her own ruling Saenuri Party ahead of the June 4 local elections. “We demand the opposition be given the same hours [of television time] at the same time of the day so we could come up with counter arguments.”

On the other hand, the Saenuri Party welcomed the forum and started a regulation reform committee within the party yesterday. The Blue House concluded internally that the president’s public discussion helped the government garner favorable public opinion in regard to her deregulation drive.


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