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(LEAD) Moon hints at possible slowdown of minimum wage hikes

Politics 11:58 December 17, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with result of meeting)

SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Monday indicated that his government may slow down the pace of legal minimum wage hikes given the strong backlash from businesses amid a sluggish economy.

"It is important that new economic policies such as the minimum wage hike and workweek cut are pursued under a general consensus based on the tolerance and harmony of interested parties," Moon said during an extended meeting of economy-related ministers. "If necessary, we need to devise ways to make adjustments."

The meeting was the first of its kind under Moon's presidency.

He said the same thing applies to other key economic policies, calling on his officials be cautious against their possible adverse repercussions on society.

Raising the minimum hourly rate is one of Moon's core economic initiatives. The government has decided on a 10.9 percent raise to 8,350 won (US$7.4) per hour for next year and been pushing to increase the threshold to 10,000 won by 2020. But there have been growing calls for a revision to the move.

The president, however, was unshaken about his push in overall economic policies for "inclusive growth" and called for patience and faith until the country reaches an outcome.

"We are changing the basis of our economic policy and while there may be disputes and questions, we need to wait with patience until it bears fruit," he said.

Moon also called on the officials to prove to the public with achievements that the policy is heading in the right direction, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

The meeting was attended by new Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae, who doubles as deputy prime minister for social affairs, and heads of other key ministries and government agencies in charge of economy-related policies.

President Moon Jae-in (C) speaks during an extended meeting with economy-related ministers and heads of government agencies in the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Dec. 17, 2018. (Yonhap)


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