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Minister vows to deregulate further to support companies

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan said Friday that the private sector needs to take a bigger role in the economy, vowing to create a business-friendly environment.

In his first meeting with heads of the nation’s five major business lobby groups, Bahk attributed the economy’s fast recovery from the financial crisis to “jobs created, overseas investments made and taxes paid” by the private sector businesses.

“It is never enough to emphasize the importance of the private sector in our economy. The reform toward a more private sector-driven economy needs to accelerate,” Bahk said.

Thanking the business associations for joining the government-driven inflation fight, the minister vowed to further deregulate market rules to help companies grow faster.

“I promise you that the government will continue to actively ease regulations that tie the hands and legs of companies and will create a friendly environment for business activities,” he said.

His comments came on the heels of criticism of the government after four major oil refineries cut prices and telecommunication companies cut mobile phone fees in recent months to cooperate with the state’s inflation fight. While some contributed to the action as a meaningful sacrifice for price stability, the moves were slammed by pundits of free market economics who saw it as arm-twisting of the private sector unheard of in advanced economies.

“I believe that the biggest role of the government is to ease diverse regulations and create a business-friendly environment so that companies can do business freely on the global stage,” Bahk added.

The meeting was Bahk’s first official gathering with the nation’s five business lobby groups since he took office on June 2.

The five representatives included Sohn Kyung-sik, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Huh Chang-soo, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries.

Kim Gi-moon, chairman of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business, and SaKong Il, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association. The Finance Ministry is due to announce its economy management plan for the second half on June 30 which will be focused on growing private consumption while stabilizing prices.

By Cynthia J. Kim (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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