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Finance minister plays golf with bizmen to spur domestic demand

All News 17:49 April 30, 2016

YEOJU, South Korea, April 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's finance minister on Saturday played golf with heads of business lobby groups in a bid to help boost sluggish domestic demand, government officials said.

Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho went golfing with chiefs and ranking officials of six business lobby groups, including the Federation of Korean Industries, in a bid to show joint efforts by the government and companies to prop up domestic demand, they said.

It marked the first time that ranking government officials openly played golf with businessmen since the administration of President Park Geun-hye was launched in early 2013.

Government officials have been effectively prohibited from playing golf under the Park administration as golf is regarded as an expensive sport in South Korea.

But in what seems to be a shift from her previous stance, Park has been linking playing golf to ways to increase private spending since last year.

On Tuesday, Park said in a meeting with chief editors of newspapers and broadcasters that it would be better if more government officials played golf.

The South Korean economy is slowing down due to lackluster domestic demand and weak exports.

In the first quarter, Asia's fourth-largest economy grew 0.4 percent on-quarter, slowing from a 0.7 percent gain in the previous quarter. In the cited period, private spending contracted 0.3 percent from three months earlier.

South Korea's central bank revised down its 2016 growth forecast to 2.8 percent from its previous estimate of 3 percent.

"Today's golf outing was aimed at exchanging opinions over the economy with leading businessmen," Yoo said.

The minister added that it will be desirable for more people to play golf in the country, rather than going abroad, in a bid to spur domestic demand.

The government estimates that about 2 trillion won (US$1.75 billion) per year is spent on overseas travel to play golf.

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