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New finance minister stresses sweeping structural reforms

South Korea's new finance minister said Wednesday that the country should mobilize all resources to carry out structural reforms in order to put the economy back on a growth path and make it stronger.

"It's urgent to complete reforms in the education, labor, public and financial sectors in order to make a breakthrough in the low-growth trap," Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said in his inauguration ceremony. "All resources should be funneled into the task."

"There is no tomorrow unless we revamp the rigid labor market, impractical education, the lax public sector and the unserviceable financial industry."

He also called on the National Assembly to pass a controversial labor reform bill that has been languished as the ruling and opposition parties remain divided over it.

With the completion of the reforms, the minister said he will go with "post-reform" schemes to rearrange the industrial sector and eliminate all unnecessary regulations.

"It's too late to make reforms tomorrow," he said. "Make them today, and they will take off tomorrow."

As the third finance minister and the deputy prime minister for economic affairs of the incumbent Park Geun-hye government, Yoo is tasked with getting the economy back on track as its growth falters in the face of weak exports, industrial output and investments.

 Global uncertainties have risen highly as the United States has started to tighten its monetary policy and the Chinese economy is apparently losing steam, while downbeat oil prices weigh on emerging economies and the recent North Korean nuclear test has escalated geopolitical risks.

On the domestic front, he has to deal with weakening consumption, mounting household credit and highly-indebted companies, along with a demographic changes.

Many say that South Korea has already entered a low-growth cycle, as its growth potential dropped to 3 percent from 4 percent in early 2000s.

Against this backdrop, major global investment banks, including Citi Group and Morgan Stanley, forecast that South Korea will expand an average 2.6 percent in 2016, far lower than the government's estimate of 3.3 percent. (Yonhap)

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