(ATTN: UPDATES with governors' remarks in last 6 paras; ADDS photos)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in declared balanced regional development as another pillar of his administration's ambitious Korean New Deal initiative, speaking at a meeting attended by the heads of 17 local governments nationwide Tuesday.
"With a bold balanced regional development plan, the government will push strongly for the Korean-version New Deal as a national development strategy for the future of the Republic of Korea," he said during the second official session to discuss strategies on the New Deal project. The Republic of Korea is South Korea's official name. The move represents a commitment to shifting the axis of national growth to local regions, he added.
Moon, during the meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, presented regional development as a new keyword in the New Deal, along with the two existing ones -- green and digital.
The decision reflects the government's strong will to "transform the Republic of Korea dynamically starting from local areas," according to the president.
He is seeking synergy between the Korean version of the New Deal and the major policy task of fostering the economic development of regions outside the greater Seoul area.
Moon earlier announced a plan to pour 160 trillion won (US$140 billion) into various public and private programs, including AI government, SOC digitalization, green energy and a smart green industrial complex, as part of efforts to create jobs, revitalize the economy and prepare for the post-coronavirus era.
More than 75 billion won would be spent on projects implemented in or by local areas, Moon said.
Moon stated that his government will spare no incentive and other financial support for relevant New Deal programs.
He suggested that the government, local authorities and the private sector join forces for the speedy implementation of the New Deal drive.
South Korea has long struggled to decentralize the nation, as around half of its 52-million population reside in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon.
The 17 heads of local governments in attendance included Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, one of the leading potential presidential candidates; South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo, another ruling Democratic Party heavyweight; and Jeju Gov. Won Hee-ryong, who's regarded as a presidential hopeful of the main opposition People Power Party, as well as Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jeong-hyup.
The Gyeonggi governor laid out a vision for promoting an app-based food ordering and delivery service, which the provincial authorities are preparing to launch, by connecting it with a local currency in use there.
Lee described it as part of the Gyeonggi version of the Digital New Deal aimed at injecting fresh vigor into the regional economy.
"By eliminating unfairness in the platform industry, it will be able to play an exemplary, or pilot if not decisive, role in creating a healthy market environment," he said.
Won, governor of Jeju, announced a blueprint for making the southern resort island free of carbon emissions by 2030. He said Jeju would spearhead South Korea's Green New Deal in the coming decade on the basis of its low-carbon and environment-friendly energy use efforts during the past 10 years.
The South Gyeongsang Province governor emphasized the need to create metropolitan transportation networks in major local economic blocs that are similar to those in the Seoul capital area.
Moon held the first New Deal strategy session at Cheong Wa Dae last month, which was joined by representatives from the nation's financial industry.
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