Deregulation is the key

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Deregulation is the key

Six government ministries, including the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, reported on Monday to President Park Geun-hye about their plans to find growth engines for our economy through the “creative economy” and cultural fusion. Their ideas for revitalizing our lackluster economy are focused on proactively developing information and communication technologies like smart cars and surgical robots, and cultivating tourism industries by taking advantage of Hallyu and our strength in medical services.

To achieve the goal, the government plans to provide related industries with a whopping 80 trillion won ($66 billion) in policy money, including loans and investment. In other words, a third of the government’s 245 trillion won budget for 2016 is allocated to finding desperately needed new growth engines in the face of the rapidly weakening competitiveness of our mainstay industries. We welcome the government’s ambitious initiative to find a breakthrough in an ever-tougher economic environment worldwide.

However, pouring in a massive amount of budget alone can hardly lead to a creative economy. If the government’s drive is not backed by a drastic easing of widespread regulations and a thorough scrutiny of the results of government investment, it could end up nowhere. Therefore, the government must do its best to cut the red tape - a major stumbling block for aspiring entrepreneurs - and allow them to do business freely through deregulation. Yet our reality says otherwise.

If a venture firm wants to test-fly a drone it has developed, it must receive permissions not only from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport but also the Ministry of National Defense and the Defense Security Command - even when taking into account security reasons on the Korean Peninsula. As a result, a number of globally competitive online game companies moved to China due to stifling regulations or were merged with their Chinese competitors.

The government and the National Assembly must roll up their sleeves to turn the tide. President Park Geun-hye yesterday stressed that because we don’t have enough time, lawmakers must quickly pass pending bills aimed at revitalizing our economy and achieving labor reforms demanded by the public and corporate sector. But the government can’t hold the legislature solely accountable for suffocating regulations because there remain many regulations the government can ease on its own through simply changing enforcement ordinances.

The government must closely monitor whether its policy money is being wasted. Moral laxity and corruption in officialdom can distort our industrial habitat anytime. The government must help create a market environment where prospective companies can prosper without constraints.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 19, Page 34

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