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Govt. to focus on improving people's livelihoods, structural reforms: minister nominee

South Korea's government will focus all of its efforts to improve people's livelihoods and push forward timely structural reforms that can back up income-led growth goals, the finance minister nominee said Sunday.

In a meeting with reporters just after he was named the country's next finance minister Friday, Hong Nam-ki said Asia's fourth-largest economy is currently in a transitional period. He said that the country needs to take steps to carry out necessary economic reforms so as to lay the foundation for sustainable growth. 

(Finance Minister nominee Hong Nam-ki / Yonhap)
(Finance Minister nominee Hong Nam-ki / Yonhap)

He said the role of policymakers is to make certain that positive changes are made that can bring about results.

"The goal is to create a country where people can all live well, with both innovation and income-led growth contributing to the economy," the career government official said.

He said the so-called sharing economic structure will exert considerable sway on society, and since the services that are offered through this system have taken root in other countries, there is no reason to think it won't make headway here.

The sharing economy is a model based on acquiring and sharing various goods and services that can help economic actors and stimulate growth.

The comments come as the South Korean economy is widely expected to expand by a disappointing 2.7 percent this year, slower than an earlier estimate of 2.9 percent, with unemployment and investment curbing growth.

He said the government will announce a plan by the end of the year to bolster the competitiveness of key industries. The current chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination then said creating jobs and adding more value to the service sector will be examined going forward.

Hong, then said that opening new businesses can lead to job creation and vowed the government will do its part to streamline administrative red tape to help the business community.

The official, who will be the country's top economic policymaker after a parliamentary confirmation hearing, said that the private sector must be the lead player in creating value in the economy, with government finances providing a supporting role.

He said state financial support will be directed at areas that do not compete with the private sector.

Hong said that time is of the essence and that under his helm, Seoul will increase support to raise household income and reduce wealth disparity.

The minister nominee, meanwhile, said that 2019 is expected to pose tough challenges that will require some changes to be made.

"I don't see any immediate improvements going into the new year," he said, although he made clear he did not agree with the assessment that the economy is in a crisis or has entered a slump.

On the issue of who will be in charge of the country's economic policy, Hong said the finance minister, who doubles as deputy prime minister for economic affairs, will act as the control tower.

The remarks come as Hong's predecessor, Kim Dong-yeon, may have been at odds with Jang Ha-sung, the presidential chief of staff for policy before he was replaced by Kim Soo-hyun.

Kim Soo-hyun said in a meeting with reporters earlier in the day that he will support the finance minister.

He also said that South Korea is facing some downside risks amid mounting uncertainties.

The presidential aide said that the Moon Jae-in administration will firmly follow through on its policy of income-led, innovation-based growth with an emphasis on forging a fair economy.

"The three represent a single package, and there are no plans to alter this," the secretary said. (Yonhap)