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Gov't to consider changing public-sector working hours to spur domestic demand

June 19, 2011 - 09:59 By 조정은
SEOUL, June 18 (Yonhap) -- The government will consider changing the working hours of public-sector employees and splitting up the long school winter vacation into several breaks in an effort to spur domestic demand, officials said Saturday.

The measures were among a package of proposals discussed at a meeting of Cabinet and other top government officials that President Lee Myung-bak presided over to brainstorm ideas on how to stimulate domestic spending to help small businesses and other lower-income people, they said.

The two-day meeting, which began Friday, was organized as ordinary people increasingly perceive that the fruits of the country's economic growth are out of their reach.

Such perceptions are believed to be behind the waning popularities of Lee and his ruling party, ahead of next year's parliamentary and presidential elections.

One of the key proposals discussed calls for moving up the office hours of government officials and public-sector workers by one hour to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. from the current 9 a.m.-6 p.m. so that they will have more time with their families and spend more.

Also discussed was breaking up the long school vacation in water to create spring and fall breaks and encouraging government officials and public firm workers to take more leave of absence, officials said.

Some participants proposed restricting the business hours of large discount stores to help smaller neighborhood supermarkets, but no consensus was reached on the proposal as other participants voiced concern it would be going against market principles, officials said.

Other proposals discussed included providing greater tax deductions on credit card use at traditional markets and suspending the operation of cafeterias at public buildings more often to encourage workers go out to spend at nearby private restaurants, they said.

"Each ministry put forward various ideas during the meeting," a finance ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.

"We will announce specific policies later this month after looking into whether these ideas are workable."