Economy bills are near approval

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Economy bills are near approval

The five major economy-related bills that the ruling and opposition parties have agreed to previously are now in the final stages of passing through the National Assembly.

On Wednesday tensions were high when the leader of the Judiciary Committee, who is from the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), unexpectedly put a break on the process by not cooperating on passing the bills.

But at the last minute, the opposition parties reached an agreement to push through the bills with the voting of the bill at the National Assembly during its regular session, which allows the possibility of the bills finally being passed.

The bills, that have been on hold before the National Assembly for so long include the International Medical Support Act, as well as the Tourism Promotion Act, proposed by the ruling Saenuri Party.

The other three are the Mother and Child Health Act, the Medical Specialist Training Environment and Status Improvement Act and the Business Fairness Act, also known as the Namyang Dairy prevention act, which is being pushed by the opposition NPAD.

The bills advocated by the government and the ruling party are dubbed President Park Geun-hye’s economic revitalization measures. The Tourism Promotion Act has been before the National Assembly for more than 1,150 days since it was first proposed, while the Medical Business Support bill has being waiting for 408 days since it was first mentioned in October last year.

The main intention of the Tourism Promotion Act, first proposed in 2008, is to allow lodging facilities to be built 50 meters outside of school areas by exempting reviews from a committee under the education superintendent.

The government has argued that once the bill passes, it will contribute to the nation’s economy by creating 20,000 job opportunities while resulting in 800 billion won ($687 million) worth of new investments. However, it has been a hot potato as Korean Air was planning a hotel next to the nation’s cultural heritage Gyeongbok Palace by purchasing a 37,000 square-meter site for 290 billion won in 2008. The plan had trouble getting off the ground because of regulations that prevent lodging facilities setting up near a school zone.

However, as the approval was continually delayed, Korean Air decided to set up a cultural center instead.

Both the ruling and the liberal opposition party recently reached an agreement to expand the 50-meter limit to 75 meters. Additionally, a five-year sunset provision was to be applied in the greater Seoul area.

The bigger issue has been the Medical Business Bill, which was first filed in October last year. President Park has been pushing approval of the bill as she has been preaching on the need to improve the service industry in restructuring the Korean economy that heavily relies on manufacturing.

The aim of the bill, which has been held back at the National Assembly’s health and welfare committee, is to not only encourage the medical industry to attract foreign patients but also for Korean medical centers to branch out overseas.

The government has said that in the past five years roughly 630,000 foreigners have received treatment from Korean medical centers and spent 1 trillion won, which is similar to exporting 95,000 small size vehicles. Additionally it expects 1.5 million foreign patients to be treated by 2017 that would create 28,000 jobs for young people while improving the nation’s medical service quality. ?


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]




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