Communicate with the marketOn Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in invited business leaders of large- and mid-sized companies for a town-hall style meeting at the Blue House. A similar casual debate was held with small and venture company owners last week. In his opening remarks, he noted the general doubts about the Korean economy stemming from a slowdown in global economy. He asked the leaders of the top and mid-sized enterprises to stand at the forefront and venture into new industries and markets. He promised the government will pay more heed to business voices and become quicker in responding to their difficulties.
Although the president has not specified what actions the government will take to back them, it is a relief to hear that he shares a negative view about our economy and wants to do more to help out businesses. In last week’s New Year’s press conference, Moon expressed confidence that the government was heading in the right direction with its economic policies and pledged to bring about results from the existing agenda.
Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, subtly criticized the government for squandering tax funds on anti-market policies. “Businessmen take pride in building the business globally. They contribute to the nation by sharing the fruits with employees and paying taxes through profits,” he said.
How in-depth the president and business leaders conversed cannot be known since the debate was held behind closed doors. Business leaders have been making the same demands to the liberal administration: they want unnecessary and outdated regulations that hamper corporate investment and activity to be removed; they want some moderation in the pace of the government’s wage-led growth policy; and they hope the government ends anti-business policies that get in the way of growth and hiring, as jobs and income must come from the private sector. The government must correct its policy in tune with the grim business reality.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 16, Page 30