Korean biz sector demands radical policy actions to contain virus damage

2020.03.13 11:08:40 | 2020.03.13 11:30:47

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The Korean business community said government measures to aid the economy from the virus outbreak were not enough and called for more radical actions including aggressive fiscal and monetary easing and multiple tax reliefs.

“The current government measures are not enough to counter the immense damage on the industry caused by this unprecedented crisis,” the Korean Commerce & Industry (KCCI) said Thursday in its set of policy recommendations compiled from eight industries based on the opinion of KCCI members and other experts.

The 11.7 trillion won ($9.57 billion) supplementary budget bill pending in parliament would only aid economic growth by 0.2 percentage point, it said, and called for bigger budget.

KCCI also asked the central bank to join other developed economies in lowering the base rate.

“The U.S. Fed has already slashed interest rates by half a percentage point in an emergency move. If Korea doesn’t act now, we would be sending the wrong signal to markets that we’re not fully committed to using all policy tools to address the downside risks,” KCCI said.

The retail industry asked for a temporary relief in the traffic compensation tax big retailers must pay to local governments, arguing they cannot afford last year’s levels due to the sharp drop in customers.

Airlines called for tax exemptions when acquiring and owning industrial fleets. Shippers proposed a cut in seaport lease fees.

KCCI also asked for flexibility in the shorter 52-hour workweek system for businesses resuming operations after a shutdown or staff quarantine from the coronavirus.

To stimulate consumption and investment, the association suggested holding more temporary national holidays, given that this year has the fewest number of holidays in the recent five years.

It also proposed reviving company tax breaks for facility investment, a policy that ended in 2011, for a temporary period of three years.

By Lim Hyung-joon and Kim Hyo-jin

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