A report full of self-praiseThe economy cannot do any better from the so-called self-evaluation report card on economic policies and achievements over the past four years under President Moon Jae-in. According to the report published by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the business environment has improved from deregulation and individual living standards also improved due to increased income and less expenditure. Few would be complaining if the reality is as it is claimed to be by the government.
The report found 10 achievements in the areas of macroeconomic development, innovation-led growth and what the government calls “inclusive growth.” The economy has grown at a snail’s pace and even contracted last year — and income disparity has worsened. Yet the government claims the economy has strongly rebounded, household income increased and companies are on an innovation drive, all thanks to government policies.
Data tells the opposite. The government argues Korea has been the fastest in normalizing growth after Covid-19. But Korea’s economy is estimated to grow in the 3-percent range this year, slower than the estimated 7 percent in the United States, 5.8 percent in France and 5.3 percent in Britain. The government touts another venture boom through deregulation. But only recently, popular van-hailing service Tada had to shut down due to poor government mediation and toughened regulations. Leading e-commerce player Coupang chose to go public in the U.S. instead of Korea. In its documental filing, Coupang cited various regulations as business risks in Korea.
There is no mention of regret despite heavy job losses due to a steep increase in the minimum wage and a universal cut to a 52-hour workweek under the government’s income-led growth policy. Payroll decreased by 1 million and only turned positive for the first time in 13 months in March. Still, jobs among those in their 30s and 40s decreased by 250,000 while the senior age group added 410,000 thanks to state-funded temporary hires. The report did not mention the widened income disparity despite repeated relief handouts. It left out real estate failures that led to runaway housing prices.
Cool judgment and reflection on past mistakes is necessary to set policies in the right direction. The 25-page report full of self-praise raises questions about the ministry’s sense of reality. Self-indulgence has been a persistent trait for this government. But we cannot but worry that its stubbornness will further harden the lives of the people.