Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, on Friday strove to head off his image as an anti-business interventionist, promising transparent regulations and a market-friendly government.
"Do there still remain any concerns among our businesspeople that I, Moon Jae-in, might be business unfriendly? I will tell you for sure. That is the farthest from the truth," he said in a special meeting with members of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
|Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party (Yonhap)|
Liberals, such as Moon, are often viewed to be business unfriendly here in the sense that they are against large businesses, especially family-owned conglomerates that have long been accused of corruption.
Dismissing such a view, Moon said those who are truly unfriendly to businesses are the ones who extort political funds or personal gains from businesses, apparently referring to ousted former President Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office over a series of corruption allegations. She and her close friend Choi Soon-sil are suspected of having coerced nearly 80 billion won ($70.2 million) in donations from dozens of local companies.
"Those with political power turning businesses into their own personal coffers and bureaucrats dragging businesses down for their own interests are making it difficult to do business in the country. Now wouldn't you call that business unfriendly?" Moon asked.
The lawyer-turned-politician said he agreed with a need for the government to intervene in the market, but only when necessary.
"I never think the government must solve every problem there is. Only, I believe the government must play a role when the market does not function properly, and that only then the government must play a role to guide the market," he said.
The presidential front-runner said he, if elected, will have his government play a limited role by spearheading or promoting the fourth industrial revolution in the local market, and this will entail investment in new jobs and the people.
"I believe the key is to increase investment in the people," Moon said. He earlier said such investment would include creating 810,000 new jobs in the public sector during his five-year presidency, which he said would prompt the private sector to create 500,000 new jobs per year.
The liberal presidential candidate also vowed to reform large conglomerates, often called chaebol, but said his government, unlike former administrations, will not introduce what he called a one-size fits all regulation for all.
"Reforming chaebol can be summarized into two main objectives. To prevent the concentration of wealth and to change corporate governing structures. But up until now, measures to such an end only meant applying the same regulations to every firm that falls under a certain criteria, such as 5 trillion won or 10 trillion won in assets," Moon said.
"I believe such an approach has limited effects, while they may cause negative side effects."
Moon said his economic reform measures will target only those with real problems.
"My goal is to create an environment where businesses themselves can grow," he said. "Innovating or reforming negative aspects (of firms) to allow businesses to lead the country's economy is how we create a true market economy." (Yonhap)