Gov’t property to be repurposedThe government will build 20,000 new homes for newlyweds and 100 day care centers by utilizing existing government properties.
Additionally, it will increase next year’s job creation budget by 12 percent while guaranteeing a higher income by raising the minimum wage.
At an economic ministers meeting held at the government complex in central Seoul on Thursday, the government decided to utilize government buildings including police stations and resident centers that have been in use for more than 30 years to create housing units for newlyweds and day care centers.
According to the government, 173 government buildings that are located in cities with a population over 300,000 will be under review to see if there is a demand for the housing.
Among the 20,000 units, the first 10,000 will available in the second half of this year. All 100 day care centers will be finished by 2022.
The decision came after the government determined that there is a need to change the way public property is managed.
In the past the government focused on profitability, rather than public interest, when developing government property.
This time the administration hopes to concentrate more on public interest projects, so as well as providing affordable housing units some buildings will also be converted into office spaces for social organizations.
The public properties are divided into two categories - administrative properties and general properties. Administrative properties are government-owned buildings such as police stations and public schools as well as public roads and other infrastructure. General properties are owned by the government but not used for administrative purposes.
The government as of last year owns 5 million administrative properties covering 24,109 square kilometers. These are worth 787 trillion won. There are 680,000 general properties covering 831 square kilometers - worth 257 trillion won.
The administration is planning to review the administrative properties to see if any of them can be changed to general properties. Once a government-owned building is categorized as a general property it can then be developed into affordable housing or day care centers.
The government also plans to spend 40 billion won to buy properties owned by local governments and the state-owned Korea Land and Housing Corporation. That budget will be raised to 45 billion won next year.
The supply of affordable housing as well as day care centers and the budget increase for job creation are all part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s plan to foster income-driven growth in the economy.
The new homes and day care centers will lift the burden on young married couples, reducing the cost of both rent and childcare.
At the same meeting Kim Dong-yeon, the minister of strategy and finance, said the government will be increasing next year’s budget targeted job creation by 12 percent and guaranteeing an increase in income by raising the minimum wage.
“We will solidify the foundation of household income by raising labor income, which accounts for 70 percent of household earnings,” Kim said during the meeting.
“It is expected that the income distribution will worsen for six consecutive quarters from last year,” the finance minister said. “It is a warning sign on the critical problems of our economic structure and if we do not handle the current status we won’t be able to guarantee sustainable growth.”
Last year the Park Geun-hye administration increased the job budget 10 percent compared to the previous year to 17.5 trillion won. It was the biggest hike among the 12 budget categories at the time.
The minister’s comment came as the Finance Ministry is planning to announce its budget plan for next year on Tuesday.
The Moon administration has prioritized improving household income to boost the economy as it believes it will encourage consumers to spend more and therefore lead to businesses enjoying healthy earnings.
The Finance Ministry’s budget plan is expected to become more concrete as the top position in the ministry’s budget office that was left empty for more than a month has finally been filled.
The Finance Ministry on Thursday named Koo Yoon-cheol, who was the de facto head of the budget office, to the position. The post was left empty since Koo’s predecessor Park Chun-sup was appointed by the Moon administration to head the Public Procurement Service on July 17.
The initial draft of the budget was supposed to be announced at the end of this month but it was delayed due to the vacancy.
Koo, who was the deputy director general of the budget, has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Seoul National University and a master’s degree on public policy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Under the Roh Moo-hyun administration Koo served as the head of the national affairs office. Since his return to the finance ministry in 2008 he has worked in the policy and budget office.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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