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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 14)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:14 September 14, 2021

Extra budget fiasco
State-financed employment projects fail to satisfy jobseekers

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the nation early last year, the Moon Jae-in administration has hurriedly drawn up a series of supplementary budgets under the pretext of creating jobs. But these job creation budgets have not been properly executed.

Take this year's first extra budget, for instance. As of the end of July this year, four months after the 15 trillion won ($13.2 billion) extra budget was approved, only 40.7 percent of the Ministry of Employment and Labor's "emergency employment budget" has been disbursed, according to data released by the office of Rep. Choo Kyung-ho of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP). Most of the 2.8 trillion won earmarked for job creation from the extra budget had been allocated to the labor ministry.

What's dumbfounding is that the ministry ― back then ― had emphatically expressed its willingness to rapidly spend the allotted budget. Yet the implementation of its proposed projects has in fact been slow. A project to let individuals experience jobs at small- and medium-sized firms and public institutions reports that only 3.8 percent of the budget has been used so far as both jobseekers and businesses have shown little interest in state-financed short-term jobs. And not a single penny has been spent on a project to provide online coding classes for young people and middle-aged women.

The bigger problem is that many of the state-financed employment projects are failing to satisfy jobseekers because they are usually part-time jobs. There are a number of programs intended to help young people get hired, but few of them are applying for such programs.

The second extra budget approved in late July also allocated 2.5 trillion won for jobs and the people's livelihood. But an increased budget doesn't necessarily lead to job generation. What is needed first is for the government to ramp up efforts to develop realistic projects jobseekers want and need. The administration should also focus on softening regulations and raising labor market flexibility, recognizing that private businesses should be entrusted with the creation of decent jobs.

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