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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 14)

All News 07:08 June 14, 2017

President's address
: Assembly should give Moon’s extra budget a chance

The presidential address to the National Assembly, Monday, asking for the passage of an 11.2 trillion won ($9.95 billion) supplementary budget bill aimed at alleviating unemployment was well-prepared and delivered with much sincerity. The bill is focused on creating jobs for young adults, particularly in the public sector.

On several occasions since taking office, Moon has proved to be a good speaker who spreads his messages effectively. His speech was different from previous ones given by presidents at the National Assembly. He used visual materials to underline the urgency of the extra budget. Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea responded to the speech with huge applause.

This was the first time that the nation’s President had given an address at the National Assembly on an extra budget. It shows Moon’s strong determination to speed up job creation and his respect for the National Assembly.

Despite his pleading, prospects for the passage of the supplementary budget bill are uncertain. He failed to convince the opposition parties, which control a majority of the parliamentary seats.

The People’s Party agreed with the purpose of the extra budget, but it is still opposed to increasing jobs in the civil service. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) has argued that job creation was not a valid reason to draft a supplementary budget. It has turned a blind eye to some positive outcomes expected from the plan, such as supporting small companies hiring young people.

It is true that the supplementary budget has some shortcomings, but at least it can serve as an impetus for creating jobs, improving working conditions and supporting the citizens’ lives. The youth unemployment rate soared to a record high 11.2 percent in April. But in reality, the figure is much higher. During the speech, the President said one in four young adults is jobless. The devastating youth unemployment is the root cause of many other social problems.

As the President said, it is a dereliction of duty for the government and Assembly to neglect youth unemployment. The supplementary budget plan is Moon’s first attempt to respond to the nation’s serious economic woes, such as the mass unemployment, low growth and the widening income gap, which worsened during the previous administration. If the LKP and other opposition parties are not able to come up with better alternatives, they should recognize the timeliness of the extra budget plan and cooperate toward a swift passage of the bill.

The President himself admitted that the extra budget plan is an “emergency prescription.” He should continue to actively engage with the National Assembly for long-term plans to tackle the job crisis.

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