Let me begin the 25th Cabinet Meeting.
In my special address to mark three years in office, I pledged that we will surmount both the epidemic and economic crises in the fastest and most exemplary manner and move forward to become a Republic of Korea that takes the lead globally. That was not my personal resolution but rather my Administration’s goal and determination to accomplish what all of our people aspire to. I urge the Government to do everything in its power to help turn that vision into reality, not mere rhetoric. I hope you lay out concrete action plans and implement them expeditiously.
I call upon you to follow several points.
First, we should not lose this opportunity.
We cannot afford to hesitate in the face of crises. We must urgently reinforce the infectious disease prevention and control and healthcare systems to begin with. This task is also needed to prepare for the second epidemic wave that experts predict will hit this fall or winter.
In particular, the faster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is upgraded to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, the better. Since both the ruling and opposition parties made this a general election campaign pledge, I urge you to devise a reorganization plan as soon as possible and push it forward as the 21st National Assembly’s top legislative priority.
I also urge you to immediately push for a third supplementary budget. We need to speed up the pace to reduce the impact of the now-evident employment shock and bring vitality to the contracted economy. I call upon you to advance the timetable to quickly implement the measures aimed at reviving domestic demand, promoting investment, and reinvigorating manufacturing and local economies.
Second, we need to be bold.
The Korean version of the New Deal should be pursued boldly as well. This is not about the repackaging of existing projects. Rather, it is to actively identify and push for large-scale national projects. I’d like you to utilize the experience of having laid the cornerstone for becoming an IT powerhouse through bold investments in IT infrastructure from that difficult period in the wake of the 1997 foreign exchange crisis. Almost 20 years later from that time, what I propose is that we should lay the groundwork for our country’s emergence as a digital powerhouse by boldly investing in the establishment of digital infrastructure while creating many new jobs.
If we linger in the past, we’ll end up being a straggler or falling behind. We need to actively respond to this period of tremendous transition in world history. We must audaciously eliminate obstacles blocking our advance to a pace-setting economy. I urge you to actively pursue creating the institutional environment – including the abolition of outdated regulations – so that creative thinking and a willingness to continue taking on challenges can emerge as the source of our economy’s dynamism.
Third, we need to be meticulous and detailed.
Even a system created with good intentions can instead be counterproductive if not prepared thoroughly. At this moment, it is indeed necessary to significantly strengthen the employment safety net by expanding the range of employment insurance subscribers to include the contract-based self-employed, low-wage employees and non-permanent workers. An era of universal employment insurance cannot be achieved overnight. It needs to be developed gradually.
Specifically, it takes a considerable amount of time and effort to greatly expand insurance coverage to include the self-employed. We need to establish a system to keep track of their income, achieve social consensus and put financial measures in place.
I ask the Government to devise and meticulously pursue practical plans to lay a foundation for an era of universal employment insurance while bringing employment insurance to those currently not-covered as quickly as possible through a mid-to-long-term scheme.
The National Assembly’s cooperation is imperative for overcoming this national crisis. I ask you to sincerely make every effort to gain the Assembly’s approval of the Government’s plans and measures. The 20th Assembly is about to end soon, but I hope essential legislative bills will not be deferred to the 21st Assembly. I look forward to the National Assembly passing bills to meet the expectations of the people who are striving to surmount the national crisis.