I am glad to meet you all. I am also grateful to several members of the National Assembly for joining us.
Today, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries are jointly presenting briefings on their policy-related work. We are holding this meeting even during an emergency situation because the Government must continue to carry out its duty in a steady manner.
The two ministries play crucial roles in all fronts, including people’s livelihoods and the national economy, ranging from commuter transportation, housing and other daily necessities to infrastructure and key industries such as rail, maritime and air services.
Economic vitality is the key. The COVID-19 outbreak is already inflicting serious damage on our economy. I urge the two ministries to take the lead in helping rejuvenate the economy by fulfilling their roles as much as possible, including providing support to the air travel and maritime shipping industries that are being directly hurt.
The national economy can gain vitality only when local economies come to life. The Government has pushed for a mixture of diverse policy prescriptions to revive local economies: development of innovation cities, the overhaul of rundown industrial complexes, “New Deal” urban regeneration projects and the construction of neighborhood infrastructure. If we have so far laid the foundation for regional economic hubs, we must exert all-out efforts to produce concrete outcomes this year.
An important task in particular is to speed up public investment in the construction sector. Rather than turning to an artificial stimulus package, my Administration has focused on investing in the type of construction intended to improve conditions for quality living. The construction of inter-urban rail links and roads in metropolitan and regional areas as well as investment in local infrastructure will make great contributions to providing convenient transportation for local residents, addressing housing problems and revitalizing local economies.
The drastically increased budget over last year’s should prime the pump for private sector investment. To that end, I urge you to disburse relevant funds as promptly as possible.
Last year, dozens of projects worth about 24 trillion won were specially exempted from a preliminary feasibility study for balanced national development. To expedite these projects, I ask you to streamline administrative procedures and hasten their implementation. I also urge you to swiftly work on neighborhood infrastructure projects tied to a 30-trillion-won investment over the next three years.
One of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries’ key projects is the “Fishing Village New Deal 300,” designed to improve residential conditions and economic vitality in fishing communities, fishing ports and coastal areas. With great expectations, fishing communities hold the project in high regard. I ask you to ensure that the planned New Deal projects for this year in 120 communities and the regeneration projects for inland fishing villages – an extended New Deal program – are launched at an early stage.
We have to make this year the first one for the shipping industry’s new leap forward. The Government has been working very hard to revive this industry, which collapsed in the wake of Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy. Last year, the domestic shipping industry recorded 37 trillion won in sales, recouping its 2015 level prior to Hanjin Shipping’s insolvency. Once the super-sized container ships ordered last year are put into service from the second quarter of this year, our country’s container cargo volume – which has shrunk by half – will recover considerably.
It is also meaningful that the global logistics service network has been restored as our country’s flagship carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine joined THE Alliance, one of the world’s three alliances of major container shipping lines.
Building on this, we now need to make a clear turning point in regaining our country’s status as a shipping powerhouse this year, the third in our five-year plan to rebuild the shipping industry.
The key is to increase the number of ships that have a competitive edge and secure steady cargo volume. In particular, the global shipping market is expected to shrink in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak this year. Therefore, we must certainly respond actively to shipping companies’ requests to support stable management by strengthening the role of the Korea Ocean Business Corporation to expand the scope of its guarantees.
I especially urge you to redouble efforts to turn this crisis into an opportunity.
There are new opportunities not only for the shipping industry but also for the entire marine industry. I ask you to push ahead as planned with the new maritime and fishing industry development strategies announced last year, which include marine biotechnology, marine tourism, eco-friendly ships, autonomously navigating ships, advanced marine equipment and marine energy.
Among the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s undertakings, the people’s biggest interest lies predominantly with real estate issues. There cannot be any compromise or political consideration in the broad principle of protecting genuine owner-occupants while blocking speculation entirely. We should never hesitate even in the run-up to the general election. I ask you to take surefire measures to curb speculation should signs of it appear anywhere.
I also urge you to do everything you can to seek cooperation from the National Assembly in order to stabilize the real estate market. We need to reduce tax burdens on owner-occupants who possess a single house while strengthening taxation on those who own expensive or multiple homes.
It is a contradiction to oppose the passage of related bills while asserting that the real estate market has to be stabilized. I ask for cooperation from the National Assembly so that the related laws for the real estate measures announced on December 16, 2019, including the Gross Real Estate Tax Act and the Income Tax Act, can be revised as a follow-up as soon as possible.
Would-be owner-occupants will be able to sense relief only when there are tangible results in the housing supply as well. In particular, I ask you to expedite the expansion of the housing supply in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area. I urge you to speed up the plan to supply 300,000 units in the surrounding area as much as possible and to make sure that occupant recruitment can start within this year with regard to the supply of housing in downtown Seoul.
I would like you to do your utmost so that the following can proceed as planned without setbacks: supplying 210,000 public housing units tailored to various life-cycle stages within this year, improving substandard housing and strengthening tenant protections.
There is an old saying that “farmers rest their heads on seeds even during the lean spring months” – rather than eat them. The top priority facing the Government is to stabilize the COVID-19 outbreak, but the role of a responsible government is also to not lose sight of the people’s livelihood and the economy for even one single moment in a day. I ask the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries to be at the forefront of carrying out that role. Thank you.