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Korean New Deal to focus on local-level projects

President Moon Jae-in speaks at the Korean New Deal meeting on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in speaks at the Korean New Deal meeting on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday added the concept of balanced development to the Korean New Deal program, saying that the essence of the program is to shift the “axis of national development to the provinces.”

At the second Korean New Deal strategy meeting, Moon again stressed his administration’s drive behind the Korean New Deal and called for cooperation from the heads of 17 provincial and metropolitan government attending the meeting.

“In order to further clarify the idea, ‘balanced new deal’ will be added as a fundamental principle in addition to Digital New Deal, Green New Deal and strong social security net,” Moon said, saying that the essence of the Korean New Deal is to achieve balanced development.

“It is the government’s firm resolve to dynamically change Korea starting from the provinces.”

The Korean New Deal is a massive government-led program drawn up as part of the plans to offset the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, and to lay the foundations for future economic growth. Until Tuesday, the program had two main areas – eco-friendly and digital industries.

Saying that his administration has rolled out a number of policies for balanced development, such as urban development projects and industrial zones with eased regulations, Moon added that a balanced new deal will strengthen economic development across the nation.

“Of the 160 trillion won ($139.4 billion) investment included in the Korean New Deal, more than 75 trillion won is for projects on the local level,” Moon said, saying that a balanced new deal will change the lives of the people in the provinces.

Moon said the deal will be led by local governments, residents and corporations in the provinces, and that local authorities could cooperate to create a multi-regional projects.

At the meeting, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki stressed the importance of a balanced new deal, citing the imbalance in domestic product by region.

According to Hong, Seoul and the surrounding region’s population and gross regional domestic product account for over 50 percent of national figures, making balanced development a more urgent issue.

“Under such circumstances, regions and provincial governments are very important partners in successfully carrying out the Korean New Deal,” Hong said.

He said that balanced new deal policies will revitalize local economies and create momentum for a more equal national development.

“A balanced new deal is a concept that expands the Korean New Deal to the provinces, and a promise to seek balanced development,” Hong said, adding that the concept can be divided into three categories.

The categories are local projects included in the Korean New Deal, projects developed by local governments and New Deal projects led by state-run organizations located across the country.

According to Hong, local projects included in the Korean New Deal will include projects such as smart-city development and natural disaster management systems.

Hong said that over 130 local governments are currently developing or implementing New Deal projects such as Gangwon Province’s project for developing hydrogen-fuel related technologies.

Hong added that the central government will support local governments in handling issues related to the Korean New Deal by establishing a body dedicated to balanced new deal programs and aid local governments in hiring staff specializing in related issues.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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