Blue House accepts all suggestions by chaebol

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Blue House accepts all suggestions by chaebol

The Blue House has accepted all of the proposals made by chaebol last week for supporting the economy as it works through challenges resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.

“The Blue House will accept all 16 proposals made by the business community during the meeting with the president in regard to countering [the coronavirus] held on Feb. 13,” said the Blue House deputy spokesman Yoon Jae-kwan.

The Blue House spokesman said the acceptance of the proposals reflects the president’s determination not only to minimize the damage caused by the virus outbreak in cooperation with the private sector but also to support economic recovery.

“We have decided to swiftly accept [the proposals] as we are in need of an urgent prescription without missing opportunity as we are in a state of emergency,” Yoon said.

The spokesman said the Blue House expects companies to trust the government in pushing forward with investment plans that were devised before the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, President Moon met with Korean business leaders, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Chairman Chey Tae-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, CJ Chairman Lee Jay-hyun, Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Yoon Yeo-chul and Lotte Vice Chairman Hwang Kag-gyu.

He also met with the heads of the five business lobbying groups at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

According to the Blue House, Samsung Vice Chairman Lee asked the Blue House whether time spent at company dinners are included in the 52-hour workweek calculation.

The Blue House responded that voluntary employee bonding sessions are considered off the clock and added that the government will make sure companies are aware of that interpretation.

During an economic ministers’ meeting held Wednesday, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki actively encouraged the public to eat at restaurants to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, adding that government canteens will be closed once or twice a week to compel government employees to eat at private restaurants.

Lee also asked President Moon to send a positive message to Korean workers and their families in China. The Blue House said President Moon will send a video message in March.

Other companies, such as Hyundai Motor and SK, requested the government’s support for their production plants in China suspended due to the outbreak.

Hyundai Motor has asked for a supply of protective gear, including face masks and sanitizers, so that the production plants can operate.

SK asked the Korean government to request cooperation from the Chinese government so that even if an employee is confirmed as being infected with the virus, parts of the plants can still operate.

The Blue House said while it will connect Korean companies with protective gear companies that the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency has identified, it will continue to request cooperation from the Chinese government through its Embassy in Beijing and via consulates in the country.

Other requests included lowering the customs fees on some components and the simplification of cargo regulations.

CJ Group, which financed “Parasite,” which won four Oscars recently, asked the government to seek cooperation with China on cultural exchanges.

Lotte asked President Moon to attend major cultural events to help restore public confidence.

It also raised the need for tax benefits for the support of small companies, restaurants and mom-and-pop stores.

The Blue House said it will consider suspending corporate and value-added taxes for a maximum of nine months for companies whose businesses have been affected by the coronavirus.

“The government will do its best in turning the crisis to an opportunity,” Blue House spokesman Yoon said.

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

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