Today, the Ministry of Economy and Finance; Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry of SMEs and Startups; and the Financial Service Commission are jointly presenting briefings.
These four economy-related ministries and agencies are charged with weighty tasks this year to bring about tangible changes in the people’s livelihoods and the economy. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has imposed an even heftier burden on them.
Everyone has been faring well thus far. In particular, we put in place a platform for economic recovery last year by implementing proactive fiscal policies and making preemptive policy responses in the face of such external challenges as the global economic downturn and Japan’s export restrictions. At the same time, we have unceasingly sprinted ahead on a path toward innovation, inclusiveness and fairness to make a fundamental shift in the economic structure and strengthen the health of our economy.
The foundation for innovative growth has been laid by fostering new industries and fueling a second venture boom. Inclusiveness has been enhanced with a turnaround in job creation and improvements in distribution indices. Along with the achievements of a fair economy – unfair trade practices having been diminished and mutually beneficial cooperation between large businesses and SMEs having increased – the framework for an innovative, inclusive nation has been crafted. With the Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs playing a leading role, all economy-related ministries and agencies and their civil servants have overcome hardships and produced many accomplishments. I extend my special encouragement and compliments to them for their hard work. This year, with their shoulders bearing even heavier responsibilities, I also urge and expect them to make still more extensive efforts so that the people can sense tangible changes.
The economy-related ministries and agencies’ most significant activity last year was their response to Japan’s export restrictions. The public and private sectors – the Government, businesses and the people – have joined forces in perfect harmony and overcome the difficulties without a single case of disruption in production. We’ve lowered our dependence on Japan for three key items and gained confidence in achieving self-sufficiency in materials, parts and equipment. This has become a good example of turning a crisis into an opportunity. I am pleased with these achievements, but I value the process more. The experience of pan-government collaboration and mutually beneficial cooperation between large businesses and SMEs as well as suppliers and companies in need of their products will become a good lesson for us in resolving similar problems going forward.
In the course of responding to this COVID-19 outbreak, government-wide cooperation has shined. I believe that the pan-government cooperation spearheaded by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Central Disaster Management Headquarters and the Government’s Joint Support Group has thus far proven significantly effective in responding to COVID-19.
I ask for strong countermeasures and thorough cooperation among the economy-related ministries and agencies in future efforts to minimize the damage from COVID-19 and restore economic vitality. The economic damage from COVID-19 is being felt more acutely than the MERS outbreak in 2015. If the downturn is prolonged, it will deal a heavy blow not only to our economy but to the people’s livelihoods. It’s an extraordinary and grave situation, indeed. Although we are limited in what we can do to respond to the damage caused by external factors, domestic consumption and even leisure activities have contracted beyond reason due to overblown fears and anxieties. Now, we have to make all-out efforts to revive economic vitality while protecting the people’s safety. The Government will continue to stay alert until the end and do all it can for infectious disease prevention and control. I would like to make a request once again that the people return to normal daily routines and economic activities while putting their faith in the Government’s response and thoroughly following individual safety guidelines.
Commercial rents are the largest real hardship confronting tourism businesses and traditional markets as well as the self-employed, including restaurants, that are experiencing reduced sales due to the contraction of consumption. Now, a property owner-led voluntary campaign to lower rents is occurring in Jeonju and elsewhere to jointly overcome damage from the COVID-19 outbreak. I am very grateful for the “Good Landlord Campaign.” I sincerely wish that efforts to promote mutual benefits between commercial property owners and tenants will unfold on top of the strong Government-wide support. I hope that the people will respond in kind by actively spending more.
You have all worked very hard to prepare today’s briefings. You have prepared well in terms of policies geared for innovative growth, an industrial powerhouse that cannot be shaken, the digital economy and innovative finance. What is more important is that they are carried out. These briefings by ministries and agencies are to report not to the President but to the people. They are for you to pledge implementation. I ask you to do all that you can until the end so that the policy measures prepared will be well executed and will achieve their goals without fail. Thank you.