Dialogue is goodAt Tuesday’s three-way meeting between President Park Geun-hye, ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung and the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) Chairman Moon Jae-in at the Blue House, all three agreed on the need for reform of the civil servants pension system. They also paved the way for dialogue down the road, as seen in their agreement on the passage of the pending Basic Act on Services Industry Development. Opposition leader Moon stated he could read the president’s mind. The president politely listened to his words. Park also urged the two party leaders to cooperate on economic recovery for the sake of the country. The three leaders demonstrated a will to dispel political clouds through dialogue.
However, actions speak louder than words. We urge the ruling and opposition parties to quickly come up with follow-up measures for economic revitalization by rekindling the spirit of collaboration. They should put top priority on civil servants pension reform above all as they agreed on the need for a complete overhaul.
Moon said that the opposition has already drafted its own bill that would help cut government spending on the pensions while also easing government employees’ concerns. So far, the opposition has not revealed all aspects of their bill as it focuses on persuading the civil servants labor union of its benefits. Now that the NPAD has made clear the existence of its own bill, it must concentrate on striking a deal with the ruling party. The clock is ticking. The deadline for a grand consensus on the reforms is March 28 and a special committee for public pension reforms also wraps up its work on May 2.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle must kick off full-fledged discussions on various economic issues, including minimum wage hikes, measures to address skyrocketing rent prices, and corporate tax increases. Those are the very issues on which President Park and opposition leader Moon are poles apart. What is needed is effort to narrow the gap through dialogue.
However, a press release from the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Economic Affairs, which countered Moon’s criticisms on Tuesday by saying that groundless theories hamper economic reinvigoration as they put a damper on the psychology of economic players, went too far. The Blue House should not ignore public worries that politically offensive remarks can trigger political misunderstandings and have a stifling effect on the fledgling steps toward dialogue.
JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 19, Page 30
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