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Seoul urges big firms to boost investment

Minister Hyun also calls on lawmakers to swiftly pass economic bills

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok urged the private sector to increase investment and employment to put the economy on a stronger growth path amid lingering external uncertainties.

In a meeting with economic-related ministers on Wednesday, the finance minister said that various economic indices show positive signs that the economy is recovering backed by brisk exports, revived construction investment and consumption.

Korea recorded around 3 percent annual growth in the third quarter of this year, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2011. It was the third straight quarter of positive growth for the first time since 2010, the finance minister noted.

“However, we should not be satisfied yet as the recovery level is low and uncertainties linger over the tapering of the U.S. quantitative easing and financial soundness of India and Indonesia,” Hyun said.

The time is ripe for the private sector to increase investment and employment to further boost exports and consumption as government spending loses steam, he added.

The government already implemented most of its fiscal stimulus in the first half of this year to steer Asia’s fourth-largest economy back to a growth trajectory, with the Bank of Korea supporting through a rate cut in May.

The BOK said that the effects of the rate cut would likely be seen toward the end of this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Hyun added that entrepreneurship is the key to further boosting job creation and that the government will provide tax incentives to small and medium enterprises that invest in new equipment.

He also called on the National Assembly to swiftly pass revised economic bills that aim to revitalize the economy and the livelihoods of the low and mid-income groups, while urging ministers to boost risk management.

Minister Hyun’s comments on corporate investment and more job creation came on the heels of President Park Geun-hye’s similar calls early this week.

In her speech at the opening of the 2013 Entrepreneur Week at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry early this week, President Park said the government would do its best to eliminate unnecessary regulations and erect a healthy corporate ecosystem aimed at revitalizing investment and creating new jobs.

On Tuesday, Industry Minister Yoon Sang-jick met with chief planning officers from the nation’s top 30 conglomerates and asked the companies to completely fulfill their plans to invest a combined total of 155 trillion won ($146 billion), creating 140,000 new jobs this year alone.

By Park Hyong-ki (hkp@heraldcorp.com)
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