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N. Korea establishes new economic laws following currency change

All Headlines 10:46 December 16, 2009

By Kim Hyun

SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has announced a swathe of new laws on the economy, including regulations on consumption, state media reported Wednesday in what appears to be an attempt to tighten control after an unpopular currency reform.

North Korea enforced a surprise currency revaluation on Nov. 30, saying the move is intended to curb inflation, regulate the free market and strengthen the socialist order.

Wednesday's report announces the adoption of further legal changes across the economy.

"The Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly has newly adopted and announced a set of laws in several categories," the Korean Central News Agency said. These are a real estate management law, a law on the standard of commodities consumption and a law on the import of general facilities, the report said.

The real estate law stipulates principles governing the registration and utilization of real estate and the payments for its use, it said. North Korea has set up rental fees for government-owned land and collected them from individual users since 2006.

The commodity consumption law lays out "legal requirements that should be observed in the consumption of commodities," the report said. Given the chronic shortage in the supply of commodities in North Korea, the law appears to be aimed at putting individuals' and organizations' consumption under strong scrutiny so as to curb price hikes.

The report said the law on the import of facilities covers issues concerning the imports of facilities for factories, schools hospitals, ships and broadcasting stations, stipulating requirements for planning, signing contracts, inspections, assembly work and trial runs.

"The newly established laws have built a solid legal foundation to enhance the socio-economic effects of (utilizing) real estate," the report said, and they will also boost the people's economy "by lowering the levels of commodity consumption."

North Korea's frail economy was reportedly still reeling from the drastic currency change that issued new banknotes at the exchange rate of 100 to one. It initially set a cap on the amount of new bills allowed for exchange per household, but a growing backlash from middle-class people and merchants was prompting the government to frequently change the limit, according to reports from aid groups.


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