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Park stresses sustainable land policy

Land Ministry plans to focus on developing old urban centers

President Park Geun-hye stressed sustainable and balanced land development in harmony with the environment, criticizing massive funds-injected, large-scale development projects made in the previous government such as the four-river restoration project.

“The government needs to review more thoroughly and systematically the large-scale development projects requiring massive public funding,’’ Park stressed during the Land Ministry’s policy briefing session. Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Suh Seung-hwan reported the plans at the Sejong Government Complex on Thursday. 
President Park Geun-hye attends a policy briefing session organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport at Sejong Government Complex in South Chungcheong Province on Thursday. It is the first time that President Park has visited the new government office city since taking office in February. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
President Park Geun-hye attends a policy briefing session organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport at Sejong Government Complex in South Chungcheong Province on Thursday. It is the first time that President Park has visited the new government office city since taking office in February. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

Regarding the new direction of land development, she stressed sustainable and balanced development. “When interests clash between the development and environmental sectors, it is important for ministries involved to have an open dialogue and agree on a solution to harmonize environmental protection and economic development,’’ she added.

Based on an understanding of the Park administration’s philosophy, the minister said he will shift its land development policy’s focus to regeneration of outdated urban cities from reconstruction of underdeveloped regions.

The new land development vision came in a report on the ministry’s 2013 policy direction to President Park, made by Suh on Wednesday.

To realize the vision, the minister unveiled a key action plan ― the renewal of 10 or more major urban cities nationwide, which can create a spillover effect to smaller neighboring cities.

The change in the land development policy reflects the reality that most of the Korean population lives in cities.

In an effort to develop the detailed city rehabilitation plan, the ministry will launch a comprehensive study in June to check demands for new airports or expansion of existing facilities throughout the country.

Besides the balanced land development, other key agendas ahead of the ministry include creating quality jobs, establishing safe living environments for citizens, improving traffic conditions, establishing fair market order in construction and logistics industries, and realizing a “universal” housing welfare system.

In contrast to previous governments, the ministry, in particular, stressed that it will take action to advance the logistics industry where big business groups have been dominant. The ministry will cultivate third-party logistics companies by offering incentives, including tax benefits, to companies to use those third-party logistics firms, while punishing big business groups for automatically hiring their logistics arm without a process to evaluate its capability compared with other competitors.

Regarding the construction industry-related policies, the ministry stressed that it will support local builders to improve their competitiveness and to go abroad. It has set a goal of increasing overseas construction orders won by local builders to $100 billion by 2017 from $64.9 billion in 2012. This will turn the country into the world’s fifth-largest builder, it said.

The ministry also offered plans to increase transparency and efficiency in the country’s shipping and handling industry, a key campaign pledge of the president, which she claims can help lower consumer prices.

By Seo Jee-yeon  (jyseo@heraldcorp.com)
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