Economic aides reshuffle follows sudden ousting of policy czar
President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday appointed new economic aides in a reshuffle triggered by an abrupt sacking of his policy czar over an ethical problem.
Moon named Vice Finance Minister An Il-whan as his new senior secretary for economic affairs, filling the vacancy in the Blue House created by appointing Lee Ho-seung as new policy chief on Monday. Lee replaced Kim Sang-jo, whom Moon fired for having circumvented new rent control laws by hiking the rent on a property two days before the laws went into effect.
Moon also replaced vice finance ministers, according to presidential spokesman Kang Min-seok. Lee Eog-weon, presidential secretary for economic policy, was named the first vice minister of finance, and Ahn Do-geol, director of the budget office at the Finance Ministry, was named the second vice minister.
All three appointees are veteran bureaucrats with successful careers in the Finance Ministry. “The appointments were made to push forward the administration’s economic policy without disturbance and to help the economy make a new leap,” Kang said.
According to Kang, An, the new senior secretary for economic affairs, is known for his communication skills, driving force and ability to coordinate policies. “We expect him to complete key economic policies to make tangible accomplishments,” Kang said.
Lee, the new first vice minister of finance, is known for his expertise in macro economy and financial policies, Kang said. “We believe he will be able to speedily push forward the Korean-style New Deal projects for economic recovery,” Kang said.
Ahn, now second vice minister, is an expert of budgetary affairs, Kang said. “He will implement an aggressive and pre-emptive fiscal policy to revive the economy from the Covid-19 crisis and create jobs."
The Blue House on Tuesday rejected a media analysis that Moon rushed to make appointments because the vacancies were created by the abrupt firing of Kim. “I cannot agree that the appointments were made spontaneously,” a presidential aide said. “The appointments were made to complete economic projects without disturbance.”
Following the appointments of new vice ministers of finance, speculation grew that Moon will also replace Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, who also serves as the deputy prime minister of economy. Hong has been serving the post since December 2018. The presidential source, however, refused to comment on the possibility.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Moon hosted the cabinet meeting and expressed confidence that the country’s economy was on the fast track to recovery. “The government will boost this trend and advance economic recovery as quickly as possible,” Moon said. “We will also put forth our best efforts to minimize inequality triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Moon also named Kim In-geol, an honorary professor of history at Seoul National University, as head of the National Institute of Korean History.
BY SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]