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Gov't expected to focus on economy after elections: sources

All Headlines 12:01 April 10, 2016

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- The government will likely accelerate its push for job-creating efforts and other stimulus measures after the general elections this week that it expects could ease persistent political strife and help lay the groundwork for carrying out policies necessary to kick-start the slowing economy, sources said Sunday.

According to the sources close to the finance ministry and other relevant government agencies, the government plans to unveil major economy measures before late this month that will center on job creation and duty-free shop operation, among other things.

"We will announce job creation measures for young people and women, while finalizing the decision on whether to designate additional duty-free shops by late April," a high-ranking government official said on condition of anonymity.

Sources said that the government will review all existing state-led employment programs "from scratch" to make them more efficient in easing challenges confronting younger people and female job seekers.

The government is also expected to decide whether to grant at least two or up to five more licenses for operation of duty-free stores here, an important matter that can affect the retail and tourism industries which rely heavily on traveler consumption.

The government also seeks to pass major economy-related bills mired in political confrontation before the end of the current parliament and keep pushing for their passage even after that. They include bills for labor reform and service industry development.

Persistent political strife and internal fighting among major parties have been cited as hindrances to passing key economy-related bills at a time when the economy remains weak in the face of tough market conditions at home and abroad.

Voters go to the polls on Wednesday to choose 300 lawmakers who will represent them for a four-year term.

"Things can change in the wake of the April 13 election, but we will do our utmost to get the bills passed until the last moment of the 19th parliament," a government official said. The current parliament ends its term on May 29.

The sense of urgency is mounting among policymakers about the current state of the economy many fear is facing a critical point for its possible turnaround from the recent slump, experts say.

Last month the Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol told reporters that there is a possibility that the actual economic growth rate for South Korea may fall short of its early-projected 3 percent, emphasizing that market conditions after the second quarter will be important.
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