President Moon Jae-in is seeking to make a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations over his policy pledge for a supplementary budget for job creation and his appointment of Cabinet nominees this week.
On Monday, President Moon was to visit the National Assembly to give his first administrative policy speech to stress the need for 11.2 trillion won ($9.95 billion) to boost employment in the public sector. It will be the first time an incumbent president will address the parliament on a supplementary budget.
The move comes as his pledge to create some 810,000 jobs in the public sector faces harsh criticism from the opposition parties.
President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
In a bid to step up efforts to push for the provisional budget, the president will also meet the heads of local governments at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. As some 4 trillion won of the supplementary budget is planned for regional development, the president plans to discuss revitalizing local job markets, he said.
The meeting will be in the form of a secondary Cabinet meeting, which he seeks to promote to encourage communication with the local entities.
Before Monday’s policy speech, he was expected to visit National Assembly Speaker Chung Se-kyun and party leaders to request cooperation with his Cabinet nominations as well.
The opposition parties have formed a united front against nominees for key posts over their alleged ethical lapses and have been delaying the Cabinet appointment process. Foreign Minister nominee Kang Kyung-wha, Constitutional Court President Kim Yi-su and Fair Trade Commission Chairman nominee Kim Sang-jo were attacked on a series of irregularities, including registering false addresses, during their separate confirmation hearings.
On Sunday, opposition parties reiterated their stances against the administration, accusing it of being one-sided.
The centrist People’s Party, which holds 40 seats at the National Assembly, said Moon is only trying to use the policy speech to unilaterally push for his employment plan.
“As he has pledged to become a ‘job creating president,’ we understand his urgency. However, we cannot just vote to pass the extra budget plan that has not been reviewed thoroughly,” the party’s spokesperson Kim Yoo-jeong said.
Increasing the number of public servants using funds from national coffers cannot be a fundamental solution to job creation, she added.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party also released a statement denouncing the employment scheme, saying that bloating the government sector would only lead to greater financial burden and negative consequences to the market economy in the future.
“We welcome the president’s policy speech, but we cannot agree with the faulty budget plan. It is not the time for the president to improvise on his election pledge. We look forward to sincere efforts from the president to communicate with the opposition parties,” the statement read.
It also demanded withdrawal over the key post nominations.
“The three nominees fit perfectly into the corruption categories that the president himself has announced to get rid of,” read the statement. “The candidates who are revealed as unfit for the positions should voluntarily resign for the success of the Moon administration and to express respect to the citizens.”
In his election pledge, President Moon said he would exclude anyone involved in five irregularities from public office: tax evasion, false address registration for personal gain, real estate speculation, draft dodging and plagiarism.
On Monday, parliamentary committees were to discuss the passage of the confirmation hearing report of the controversial candidates.
There are higher chances that the top court chief and fair trade commission head would obtain approval from the People’s Party and splinter Bareun Party, but the government may have to forcefully appoint Kang, as it faces pressure due to the upcoming Korea-US summit.
As a conciliatory measure, the government has reportedly suggested the opposition party leadership accompany the first presidential meeting of Moon and US counterpart Donald Trump slated to take place in Washington late this month.
Confirmation hearings for other Cabinet members, Interior Minister nominee Kim Boo-kyum, Maritime Minister nominee Kim Young-choon and Culture Minister nominee Do Jong-hwan are scheduled for Wednesday. A parliamentary session will be held for Transport Minister nominee Kim Hyun-mee the next day.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com)