Liberal parties vow to cooperate on restructuring

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Liberal parties vow to cooperate on restructuring

The Minjoo Party of Korea said Thursday that it would create an in-house task force to cooperate with the government-led corporate restructuring plan, a shift in its traditional alliance with unions on the sensitive issue of restructuring, which usually involves layoffs.

“A team will be launched to come up with plans on corporate restructuring issues,” Kim Chong-in, interim chairman of the Minjoo Party, was quoted as saying by party spokesman Lee Jae-kyung. The task force will be approved by the leadership today.

“It is Kim’s position that the administration, ruling party and opposition parties have no time to disagree, as our economy is facing a serious crisis,” Lee said. “Kim is particularly concerned that the crisis in the shipbuilding and maritime industries will spread to the financial sector.”

Choi Woon-youl, an economist recruited by Kim who won a proportional representation seat with the Minjoo Party, also supported the need for industrial restructuring.

“If the government is moving in the right direction, the opposition parties must aggressively help it,” Choi said. “Because there is a limit to our capabilities, the party needs to invite outside experts [for the task force].”

The plan to support a state-led corporate restructuring campaign was first announced by Kim on Wednesday. He said the country’s economic future is gloomy without fundamental restructuring of noncompetitive industries, and promised the support of the Minjoo Party, soon to be the largest party in the National Assembly.

“The Minjoo Party will not hesitate to cooperate, so the government must present a proper blueprint after serious consideration,” Kim said. “There is often a misunderstanding that more money should be injected for the immediate survival of companies, and the government must be wary of this stop-gap measure.”

Kim said corporate restructuring would automatically involve massive layoffs, and measures should be prepared in advance to help the newly unemployed. He stressed that “assistance for laid-off workers and training for vocational changes are necessary.”

Kim, a 75-year-old economist and politician, has long promoted “economic democracy” in his career. He was the architect of President Park Geun-hye’s victorious campaign in 2012 and joined the liberal Minjoo Party earlier this year to head up its general election campaign. After an overwhelming victory made the party the largest group in the 20th National Assembly, Kim brought up the corporate restructuring issue, which has long been taboo among liberals.

Jung Jang-sun, a senior Minjoo Party strategist, said the leadership studied the need for corporate restructuring using the case of cash-strapped Hyundai Merchant Marine. Kim then proposed that the party cooperate with the government on the issue.

Rep. Lee Jong-kul, floor leader of the Minjoo Party, said Thursday that the final month of the 19th National Assembly is a “golden time” to save the economy.

The People’s Party, the third largest in the legislature, also promised support for corporate restructuring.

“We need far more than restructuring,” Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chairman of the People’s Party, said Wednesday. “We need a complete overhaul.”

Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho, said Wednesday the government will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of industries and companies that are insolvent will undergo restructuring.

BY SER MYO-JA, WIE MOON-HEE [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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