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Government's economic, energy policies debated during third day of parliamentary audit Updated: 2018-10-12 18:03:02 KST


A heated issue at the audit of the SME ministry on Friday was the government's income-led growth policies, especially the minimum wage hike.
The opposition parties claimed that small business owners have been forced to shut down or cut the number of their part-time workers because of the additional costs.
The minimum wage was raised 16.4 percent this year, and is headed for another hike of almost 11 percent in 2019.
The opposition also criticized the government for pumping in taxpayer money to soften the blow.

"When small business owners were upset about the minimum wage hike, did you raise the issue with the government as the minister that should be protecting these people's interests?"

"Yes. I passed on their views to the government. The government's stance is that we provide support measures at the same time that we raise the minimum wage. We believe these two approaches taken simultaneously are more effective in boosting people's livelihoods than scrapping both."

The ruling party acknowledged that while there have been unintended consequences, structural issues are to blame, arguing that what's needed is a change in economic paradigm even if there are negative effects along the way.

"For the past decade, we've taken the approach of investing to breathe life into the economy and create jobs. But it didn't work. So now, what we're trying to do is increase people's disposal income, which in turn will spur consumption. There have been hiccups, so we're using fiscal means to overcome it."

"You're right. The approach taken in the past has led to low growth and polarization and now to take care of this problem, we're using income growth policies."

At the science committee audit, under the microscope was the government's drive for nuclear-free energy.
The opposition criticized the plans, pointing out potential side effects, such as a decline in energy supply, while the ruling party defended the initiative saying it's the path the country will have to take eventually and that it was taken in consideration of people's safety.

During the audit of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rival parties clashed over whether North Korea acknowledges the Northern Limit Line, a de facto maritime border.
The conservative opposition said that the North does not recognize it since it was drawn unilaterally by UN Command, while the JCS and the ruling party said that because the two Koreas have agreed to transform the area into a maritime peace zone -- it means that it does acknowledge it.
It's been a critical issue, as a number of clashes have occurred near the border.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.
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