Finance minister calls for investment and job creation

South Korea's new finance minister on Tuesday urged companies to make investments and take the lead in creating jobs as the country makes every effort to bolster economic growth.

Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, delivers his inaugural speech in a government building in Sejong, central South Korea, on Dec. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, delivers his inaugural speech in a government building in Sejong, central South Korea, on Dec. 11, 2018. (Yonhap)

In October, the Bank of Korea trimmed its economic growth outlook to 2.7 percent for 2018 from its earlier projection of 2.9 percent. It is lower than the finance ministry's 2.9 percent outlook and the International Monetary Fund's 2.8 percent prediction.

The South Korean economy grew 3.1 percent in 2017 and 2.9 percent in 2016.

Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, pressed companies to do their parts, noting that the government will continue to prime the pump for economic revitalization.

"Let's ensure that companies make investments and create jobs with confidence under a fair rule," Hong said his inaugural speech in Sejong City, central South Korea.

Hong's appeal came as South Korean companies slashed facility investments amid increased uncertainties over a trade war and an economic downturn.

The state-run Korea Development Bank said corporate facility investments could reach 181.5 trillion won (US$160.6 billion) this year, down 4.4 percent from a year earlier, citing a recent survey of 3,100 local companies.

Hong called on officials not to let their guard down, saying there is a possibility that economic conditions could get worse at home and abroad next year.

"The path that we will walk will never be smooth," Hong said.

Also Tuesday, the Cabinet approved a plan to frontload 281.4 trillion won in the first six months of next year as part of efforts to boost the economy.

The figure accounts for 70.4 percent of 399.8 trillion won, next year's planned spending based on tax revenue, according to the ministry.

Hong later held a meeting with reporters and said that there are many areas in which conditions are unlikely to improve next year, though he did not elaborate.

He said he has proposed to President Moon Jae-in that the two meet every two weeks to discuss pending economic issues. Separately, Hong said he plans to meet with Kim Soo-hyun, presidential chief of staff for policy, every Friday, to enhance communication.

The immediate predecessors of Hong and Kim were seen as being at odds over how to handle the slowing economy. Source from the Yonhap.

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