Published : 2013-10-25 20:08
Updated : 2013-10-25 20:08
The economy remains tepid as reform bills intended to give it a shot in the arm are left on the back burner. Lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties are so wrapped up in partisan strife that they don’t care about their legislative duty.
Currently, more than 100 bills aimed at revitalizing the economy are pending at the National Assembly. As long as they remain in limbo, the government cannot put in place various packages it has prepared to put the economy back on track.
So Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok called on legislators Wednesday to accelerate their deliberation on these bills. But his appeal fell on deaf ears. A few days earlier, he lamented, “I have no idea what lawmakers do at the National Assembly.”
During the past eight months, the government has come up with a series of programs geared toward boosting the real estate market, stimulating investment and strengthening the service sector.
To jump-start the property market, the administration announced packages in April and August. But most of the legislative proposals it put forward are still pending. Among them, the most important one concerns the capital gains tax imposed on profits from property sales.
Currently, punitively high tax rates are levied on owners of multiple homes. This regulation was introduced years ago to curb real estate speculation by affluent people. But it has lost its validity and now only serves as a drag on house trading. Removing the outdated regulation would go a long way toward increasing home transactions.
Among the bills aimed at spurring investment, one key proposal calls for easing regulations on foreign direct investment. Assembly approval of the bill would instantly allow local companies to receive 2.3 trillion won in FDI from their foreign partners.
To foster the service sector, the government is pushing for a framework act on the development of the service industry. This act is important as it will offer service-sector R&D investment the same degree of incentives as that given to manufacturing R&D investment.
These are just a few of the bills that need to be passed through the Assembly without further delay. Lawmakers should act on them promptly to ensure that the government’s stimulus packages take effect as intended. That is how they can pull their weight in accelerating the economic recovery and creating more jobs.
Legislators need to realize that voters keep close track of how far their representatives go to improve their livelihoods. Focusing on partisan politics is a sure way to be ousted from parliament in the next election.