South Korea's top economic policy chief said Sunday the government will promptly come up with measures to relieve smaller businesses of the burden from a decision to hike the minimum wage for next year.
A panel representing the government, labor and management decided Saturday to raise the minimum hourly wage to 7,530 won ($6.64) for 2018, up 16.4 percent from this year. It is the highest on-year increase after a 16.6 percent hike in 2000.
"The decision will be a huge momentum for an income-led growth, but it could put a heavy burden on small business owners," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said during a meeting with economy-related ministers, vowing to promptly come up with measures for small and mid-sized business operators.
Earlier in the day, major corporate lobbies expressed concerns that the increase could worsen business conditions and hamper job creation.
"It was a decision that ignored small and mid-sized businesses which are already suffering from harsh economic conditions," an official at the Korea Employers Federation said.
"The minimum wage hike doesn't really have a direct influence on big business groups, but such a rapid hike could be regarded a signal that the current administration is siding with the labor circle more than with the business community," an official working at a local conglomerate said.
While the decision was largely seen as a victory for the labor circle, local union organizations also expressed disappointment, saying the amount still falls short of their demand.
The labor circles first proposed 10,000 won, or a 54.6-percent hike on year, while the management representatives suggested 6,625 won, a 2.4 percent increase. Their final proposals were modified to
7,530 won and 7,300 won, respectively, following government representatives' arbitration.
President Moon Jae-in has promised to increase the minimum wage to 10,000 won per hour before his five-year term ends in May 2022. (Yonhap)