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Finance minister resigns, gears up for April election

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan resigned from his post on Tuesday, in preparation for running in the April general elections.

“I am returning to the political field to change the economy, just as I did 12 years ago for my political debut,” Choi said in his good-bye address at Sejong Government Complex. 

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan delivers a good-bye address at Sejong Government Complex on Tuesday. (Ministry of Strategy and Finance)
Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan delivers a good-bye address at Sejong Government Complex on Tuesday. (Ministry of Strategy and Finance)

Choi, who doubled as deputy prime minister, showed confidence in his political vision.

“The past one and half year has been splashed with major inclement conditions, including the Sewol tragedy, outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome, Greek crisis, Chinese economic slowdown, low global oil prices and the U.S. rate hike,” he said.

Choi noted that the period of turmoil resulted in “a new path that distinctively differs from the past (economic achievement),” citing South Korea’s exit from near-zero growth in five quarters. He also said Korea is close to attaining the world’s 11th largest gross domestic product from the present 13th.

He touted the increase in tax revenues, record-high employment rate and reinvigoration of the housing and property transactions. He also cherished successful state-led structural reforms in public, labor, finance and education.

Tobacco tax and religious tax, which he dubbed “unpopular policies,” too yielded tangible results, he said.

Restoring problem-solving capacities among politicians is the most pressing agenda, Choi continued, stressing that Korean economy should not repeat Japan's lost 20 years due to the lack of effective government initiatives. 

Choi's successor, Yoo Il-ho, will take offce on Wednesday.

By Chung Joo-won (joowonc@heraldcorp.com)
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