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Park stresses structural reforms

President urges parliament to pass labor, economic bills

 President Park Geun-hye reiterated the importance of structural reforms for economic revitalization on the foundation of security in her New Year's press conference Wednesday, urging the parliament to pass economy-related bills within this month not to lose growth momentum in the economy. 

President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech in her New Year's press conference, held at Cheong Wa Dae, Wednesday. Yonhap
President Park Geun-hye delivers a speech in her New Year's press conference, held at Cheong Wa Dae, Wednesday. Yonhap

The economy losing vitality and security on the Korean Peninsula were the two key phrases in President Park’s speech.

“Time to revitalize the economy in the doldrums is running out. Despite expected difficulties and pains, preemptive reforms will make the economy healthier,’’ said Park, whose single-presidency term ends in early 2018.

To push for structural changes of the economy in such areas as labor, public, finance and education, Park stressed parliamentary approval of bills on labor reform and economic revitalization, which are pending in the National Assembly.

The passage of the bills has been pending in the Assembly for the past few months due to bipartisan deadlock on several contentious issues.

Most of all, the president underlined the importance of enacting labor reform bills, aimed at creating jobs for young people. Youth unemployment has emerged as one of the most serious social issues for the Korean economy. The government’s data showed about 1 million young people have given up on their job-searching efforts.

“Political parties should work for the people, not their interests,” Park said.

President continued to say the timing for reforms is critical as major economies in the world are in competition to seek similar structural reforms to shift gears to high value-added economies.

The continued delay in reform measures could drop the country’s credit ratings, which hit an all-time high of Aa2 as rated by Moody‘s last year, she warned.

The U.S. credit rating agency noted that delays in structural reforms could pose a risk to the Korean economy with other challenges, including Korea’s China-dependent export growth model and household debt level.

In response to the annual speech of the president, business circles promised to cooperate with the government’s reform efforts.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the nation’s largest business association, issued a statement urging the approval of the economic revitalization bill, which will help restructuring companies look for new growth engines in a more efficient manner.

By Seo Jee-yeon (