People Power Party chairman Lee Jun-seok (right) speaks during the ruling party leaders’ meeting with government officials and presidential secretaries over economic conditions in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- Political heavyweights from the ruling People Power Party said they would not spare any effort to overcome a variety of economic challenges during a meeting with senior government officials and presidential aides in Seoul on Wednesday.
Their meeting comes as the nation’s inflation -- 6 percent in June -- hit its highest point in more than two decades. The country is also grappling with rising interest rates, which are posing a heavy burden on households.
Some noteworthy remarks came from People Power Party chairman Lee Jun-seok, who suggested at the meeting that the Yoon Suk-yeol administration be more active in taking care of people’s living conditions.
“It is not easy (for the administration) to appeal to people if it (simply) delivers speeches like vowing to raise the economic growth rate to a particular level, or pledges for investment and job creation,” Lee said.
He said the administration has yet to deliver a variety of policies or campaign pledges in an effective manner to people, adding that it should closely look into households’ living conditions.
He also called for the Yoon administration to put more priority on fairness, by paving the way for equal opportunities in all sectors overall.
People Power Party floor leader Kweon Seong-dong said that the new administration’s administrative philosophy and vision are not fully reflected in the Finance Ministry’s economic policies, citing unfavorable economic indices which are hampering implementation of regular policies.
“People have suffered from spikes in consumer prices, gasoline prices, interest rates and both gas and electric charges,” Kweon said. “It will be difficult for the administration to secure power to push for administrative affairs if it fails to cope with the current crisis.”
Kweon agreed with People Power Party Chairman Lee, saying that the priority among all policies should be people’s livelihoods and economic recovery.
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said that it is hard to resolve difficulties without sacrifice and contributions from each social segment. “(The administration) should notify people of the current situation in a transparent manner, explain what we (people) should sacrifice and what we (people) could earn from these sacrifices.”
For the government sector, Han said economic policymakers have been carrying out actions involving 10 projects to improve people’s living conditions and a second round of supplementary budgets for the underprivileged.
“Alongside forming a team between the party and government, (the ruling party) should demand drastic cooperation from the opposition (over economic affairs),” he said.
Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki said: “The economy has become a core part of politics. It is very important (for the Yoon administration) to coordinate with the National Assembly in conducting economic policies.”
Among the participants at the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho and People Power Party chief policymaker Sung Il-jong.
According to Statistics Korea, the nation’s inflation has continued to grow on-year -- 3.6 percent in January, 3.7 percent in February, 4.1 percent in March, 4.8 percent in April, 5.4 percent in May and 6 percent in June.
Korea’s benchmark interest rate climbed to 1.75 percent per annum as of May after a series of hikes from monetary policymakers in recent months, while it stayed at 0.5 percent a year earlier.
More and more market insiders predict that the rate will reach 2 percent or above after the Bank of Korea’s monetary policy board meeting, slated for July 13.
By Kim Yon-se (email@example.com