Business leaders mark new year with call for deregulation

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Business leaders mark new year with call for deregulation

Huh Chang-soo

Huh Chang-soo

Sohn Kyung-shik

Sohn Kyung-shik

Park Yong-maan

Park Yong-maan

The chiefs of business lobbying groups — who themselves head major conglomerates like CJ and GS — filled their New Year’s messages with pleas for deregulation, following a year that saw the passage of bills aimed at increasing scrutiny of corporate governance.
 
Those rules, including one that limits the voting rights of a conglomerate's largest shareholder and related figures to 3 percent, put Korean industry players at a disadvantage internationally, as most of the polices are unique to Korea.  
 
“Korean companies should at least be able to compete with foreign companies in a fair manner on the global stage,” said Huh Chang-soo, chairman at the Federation of Korean Industries, in a statement.  
 
“Please let go of policies and regulations that discriminatorily squeeze Korean companies and foster a market environment where entrepreneurs work with their full potential,” said Huh, who also heads GS Group.  
 
Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had similar concerns.  
 
“Above all, [the government] should pull out all the stops to enhance the dynamic of the economy,” he said. “Worries have arisen for a handful of advanced economies dominating digital and bio sectors in the post-Covid-19 era. To close the gap, we should open a ‘window of opportunity’ toward the future.”
 
Park cited some controversial pending bills as obstacles for such efforts, saying that the government needs to come up with more viable solutions after consulting with the business sector. The bills include a proposal intended to hold chief executive officers and other high-ranking managers accountable for occupational accidents and deaths.
 
The chairman also voiced concerns over legislation to expand the legal scope of class-action suits and punitive damage on top of the Moon Jae-in administration’s initiative to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
 
The government has defended the proposals, saying the laws could help level the playing field while effectively restraining groups from abusing their power.
 
Sohn Kyung-shik, chairman of the Korea Enterprises Federation, echoed the sentiment, calling for “a paradigm shift” in the government’s approach toward devising rules and regulations. 
 
“The policies should be redirected in a way that could promote investment and improve the corporate environment,” Sohn said.  
 
He took a step further to take a swipe at the corporate tax and inheritance tax systems.  
 
“Other countries are inclined to lift the burden of tax for corporations and we need to follow suit,” he said. “The controversial inheritance tax rate should be lowered to restore investment sentiment.”
 
BY PARK EUN-JEE   [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
 
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