Ability and diversity matter

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Ability and diversity matter

On Sunday, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol nominated candidates to head eight government ministries. Announcing the nominations in a press conference, Yoon said he based his decisions on the individuals’ expertise in their fields. The president-elect also underscored that he was not considering where nominees come from regionally or their gender. His nominations reflect a campaign promise to appoint top officials based on their competence, not factors to ensure an artificial balance in the Cabinet.

The biggest challenge for the incoming administration is an economic crisis. Coupled with excessive liquidity amid the pandemic and the Ukraine war, our consumer price index has soared into the four percent range, the highest in 10 years. Despite countries’ effort to calm inflation through interest rate hikes, economic recovery is slow. Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, nominee for finance minister, said he will put top priority on stabilizing prices, but he has a seemingly contradictory plan to spend an additional 50-trillion-won ($40.7-billion) supplementary budget to stimulate the economy.

Another challenge is how to stabilize the real estate market. The new administration has to correct the regulation-based policies of the Moon Jae-in administration. But apartment prices already show signs of increases even before the start of the new government on May 10. As Won Hee-ryong, policy chief for Yoon’s presidential campaign and the nominee to head the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said, the new government must listen to diverse stakeholders to devise successful real estate policies. The economic team of the new administration is expected to be comprised of policymakers respecting market principles rather than adhering to ideology-based policies like the “income-led growth” policy of the Moon administration. We hope the nominees for industry minister and science and technology minister create jobs through deregulation and fostering new industries.

We welcome Yoon’s decision to nominate Prof. Kim Hyun-sook to head the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family despite controversy over the ministry itself. The new government does not have to rekindle the deep conflict over the ministry. Instead, it should maintain some functions of the ministry even after reorganizing the government. We also hope the nominees to head the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare do their best.

But it is regrettable that the nominees are all men, except for the nominee to head the gender ministry, and aged between their late 50s and 60s. We hope the conservative administration embodies more diversity when nominating heads of other ministries.
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