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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 26)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 06:59 October 26, 2018

Half-baked measures
Government fails to fundamentally address job crisis

The government announced a package of measures aimed at reinvigorating the economy and improving the grave job situation, Wednesday. But many experts say the measures once again failed to get to the core of the problem.

During an economic ministers' meeting at the Government Complex in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said 59,000 temporary jobs will be added by the end of the year and taxes on refined fuel products will be reduced by 15 percent for the next six months. In addition, the government will spend about 17 trillion won ($13 billion) to boost private investment.

Against a bleak economic outlook, it is doubtful measures will have the desired effect. "Private investment has been weakened and employment difficulties persist," Kim said. "Coupled with external risk factors such as the U.S.-China trade conflict, it is uncertain whether the economy and the job situation will improve in the short term."

There are some serious faults with the government's latest measure. The highlight of the announcement is the reduction of taxes on refined fuel products, the first time for the government to do so in 10 years. It did the same thing after severe financial crises in 2000 and 2008. The 15 percent reduction is also larger than previous ones. The rare measure shows the government perceives the current crisis very seriously. The ministry explained the measure was aimed particularly at helping the self-employed. But some experts question its effectiveness in actually reducing the financial burden on small firms and people struggling with low incomes.

Another problem is with the short-term jobs the government is planning to create in the public sector. This will entail public corporations and agencies affiliated with ministries hiring a lot of temporary workers and interns in the next six months. But this is far from being a fundamental solution to the job crisis or providing jobseekers with any kind of real security. Therefore, many are criticizing that the measure is only aimed at hastily raising the number of new jobs. Also, creating so many temporary jobs goes against President Moon Jae-in's key policy of reducing irregular workers and boosting quality employment.

The government is planning another round of job-related measures in December. Next time, it should include details about more urgent tasks, such as spurring innovation in the corporate sector, nurturing new industries, deregulation and labor reform.
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