Square peg for a round hole

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Square peg for a round hole

The National Assembly failed to reach an agreement on bills that would deregulate the service sector and lift a cap on investment in internet banks. These bills, which would create regulation-free special investment zones and expand service industries, have returned to their respective legislative committees for further review.

Revising the Banking Act to make an exception for non-financial companies’ investment in internet banks was personally pitched by President Moon Jae-in. He reminded the legislature how the British Locomotive Acts of the late 19th century killed the British motor vehicle industry and used it as an example to emphasize how absurd it was to impose the same rules regulating brick-and-mortar banks on online financial institutions.

Still, the move has been strongly resisted by some members of the ruling party and civic groups that argue about the risk and danger of large non-financial companies owning banks. The bill cannot be expected to pass when the ruling party is divided on the issue.

A bill that would expand research on genetic treatment, which is currently limited to treatment for AIDS and other fatal diseases, was rejected by the National Bioethics Committee, a government entity. Although gene therapy is active in the United States, European Union and Japan, research has stalled in Korea because of regulation.

Other bills have been sitting in the legislature for years. A law aimed at reforming the service sector has been gathering dust for eight years. To tackle regulations, policymakers must have their eyes on the broader nation and economy instead of special interests.

Industries that are available elsewhere in the world should also be accessible in Korea. If regulations stifle new business opportunities, jobs will never be created no matter how much money the government spends.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 31, Page 30

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