President Moon Jae-in held a rare meeting with former government officials Wednesday to seek their advice on ways to boost the economy that could signal possible changes in his economic policies.
The lunch meeting held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae was attended by eight former government officials and economic experts, including former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan and former Bank of Korea Govs. Park Seung and Kim Choong-soo.
“The meeting sought to listen to the advice of the economic elders on the current economic conditions and other related issues,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said of the meeting.
The president has been struggling to keep Asia’s fourth-largest economy afloat, holding more than half of all economy-related meetings since his 2017 inauguration in less than three months from the start of this year.
The Bank of Korea has slashed its 2019 growth outlook for the South Korean economy to 2.6 percent, which will mark a slowdown from a 2.7 percent on-year expansion last year. The central bank earlier forecast 2.7 percent growth in 2019.
Moon and his administration face strong criticism from both businesses and local workers for their trademark income-led growth strategy.
The businesses claim the recent hikes in the minimum wage have made it nearly impossible, especially for smaller companies, to do any business, while the laborers complain about a de facto reduction in their income due to the start of the 52-hour workweek system.
While meeting with officials from civic organizations at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday, the president acknowledged some apparent failures of his economic policy.
“It appears the general increase in the income of hired workers is a clear success. But on the other hand, the criticism that we have rather failed to narrow the income gap does have a point because it is true that the increase in the number of jobs has slowed and the income of households outside of employment has been reduced,” he was quoted as telling the meeting.
“That is why I say the government will step up its efforts to properly establish a social safety net by reducing income gaps by boosting the income of such workers while making sure no one is forced out of the job market and also guaranteeing the income of such persons.” (Yonhap)