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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on May 27)

All News 07:14 May 27, 2020

Hopes for new Assembly
: Legislators should focus on economic recovery

The 21st National Assembly will host legislators chosen by voters who quintessentially called for generational and political changes, and a bipartisan floor for a "New Korea."

Because the 20th Assembly that wraps up Friday has done one of the worst jobs in passing legislation ― just 39 percent of the 25,000 bills registered ― there is a hope that the incoming legislature will do better. This invariably veils Korea's desperation to keep the economy humming along amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Moon Jae-in is moving aggressively to meet with the floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the main opposition United Future Party, Thursday, to seek cooperation on a myriad of economic issues. One of the foremost topics they can discuss will invariably be the passage of a third supplementary budget by the new Assembly, expected to be at least 30 trillion won ($24.2 billion), required to ease the unemployment crisis, and revive the economy.

Negotiations to form the new Assembly are underway, but there are concerns that the two major parties are wrangling over which party helms the crucial budget and judiciary committees and thereby delaying any meaningful activity at the new parliament.

If the new legislators bear in mind the creeping sense of gloom around Korea Inc., they will surely stop dragging their feet on procedural issues.

From a broader perspective, a recent eye-catching survey by the Korea Enterprises Federation cited more and more deregulation as the legislative body's top priority. Among 222 business and economic professors surveyed, 73.4 percent cited abolishing high entrance barriers for new business entrants, and deregulation for new industries as the top tasks for the Assembly. About 57 percent selected labor reform, followed by 33.8 percent who indicated a stronger welfare and social safety net as being of key importance. Also, 14.4 percent of respondents said that reform of chaebol was necessary.

These are no longer visionary statements but economic realities called for in this pandemic world. Fortunately, the administration is on the same page ― President Moon in his special third year anniversary speech said he would turn Korea into a "digital powerhouse" and the "world factory of high-tech industries."

The new Assembly should get to work promptly and deal urgently with bills that will facilitate deregulation and the transition of the Korean economy in the face of the encroaching economic crisis.

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