Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho (center) poses with business leaders during their meeting in Seoul, Thursday. Among the participants were Korea Enterprises Federation chief Sohn Kyung-shik (third from left), Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief Chey Tae-won (third from right) and Federation of Korean Industries chief Huh Chang-soo (second from right). (The Ministry of Economy and Finance)
SEJONG -- South Korea’s fiscal chief on Thursday called on businesses to refrain from raising product prices and wages amid lingering fears of rising inflation.
The comments from Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho came during his meeting with heads of the nation’s six business lobby groups in Seoul.
“Given that hikes in price tags and wages could bring about a vicious circle in inflationary pressure, (the government would like to ask you) to internally curb factors for (consumer) price growth,” he said, adding that he hopes businesses to rather focus on improving productivity as a solution.
Noting that the monthly consumer price growth would hover over 5 percent for a while, he stressed that it is time for both conglomerates small- and mid-sized enterprises to share difficulties in a bid to overcome the current economic slowdown and high inflation rates.
Instead, the minister promised to support businesses with a variety of benefits, such as tax cuts and state-led fiscal funding, to ease their growing burden on production costs.
Choo picked the longer-than-expected war between Ukraine and Russia, monetary tightening of major countries and global inflationary pressure as major risks to the local economy.
Regarding the Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s economic policy direction, Choo said the government would take on the role of backing up a market-based economy, under which the private sector and businesses would take the initiative in creating jobs and investments.
He expressed gratitude for major businesses’ recent unveiling of large-scale investment plans. According to the ministry, 11 major conglomerates expressed their willingness to pour a combined 1,000 trillion won ($840 billion) with aims to nurture their growth drivers and facilitate the local economy over the next five years.
“In addition, the government plans to carry out drastic deregulation, and push for revision of corporate and inheritance taxes,” he said.
The list of the participants included Chey Tae-won of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sohn Kyung-shik of the Korea Enterprises Federation and Huh Chang-soo of the Federation of Korean Industries.
During the meeting, Sohn also appealed to the authorities for a presidential pardon for some business leaders, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin.
The chaebol leaders, released on parole, still face work and travel restrictions.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)