President Yoon Suk-yeol (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol said the nation’s financial situation has deteriorated significantly over the past five years and that the government should tighten its belt to overcome the financial crisis, ordering ministries to conduct a thorough investigation of public sector assets.
Yoon presided over the 2022 National Fiscal Strategy Meeting on Thursday at Chungbuk National University in North Chungcheong Province to discuss the direction of the new government’s five-year fiscal management and fiscal reform tasks.
The nation’s solid finances are in a situation that is pointed out as a potential risk factor for national credibility, according to the president.
“The national debt, which was 600 trillion won ($462 billion) in 2017, increased by 400 trillion won, and it is expected to exceed 1,000 trillion won by the end of this year,” Yoon said. “The growth is at an all-time high in scale and speed.”
“Under these financial conditions, our economy is facing a complex crisis of high prices and low-interest growth,” Yoon said, ordering the government to tighten its belt to overcome the current public welfare issues and the financial crisis.
He added that assets in the public sector should be thoroughly investigated and sold at an appropriate level, starting with assets that are less related to the function of institutions. “The quota and remuneration of public officials should also be operated on strict standards.”
Yoon said, “We need to get out of the thoughts of fiscal omnipotence that the economy will grow on its own and the people’s livelihoods will improve if we inject into the budget.”
“It is time to look closely at whether the finances have violated the private sector and the market and restricted growth, and whether the so-called ‘crowding-out effect’ has not worked.”
He also said the funds made from the restructuring of spending should be used to support the socially disadvantaged.
“We must use the saved resources where it is necessary,” he said. “The government should support the socially disadvantaged and vulnerable with funds raised by tightening the public sector so they can overcome the difficult economic crisis.”
He also said, “We should boldly spend money on projects that discover future growth engines for the country, such as fostering ultradifferentiated strategic technologies and key talent in future industries.”