President Park Geun-hye, in a meeting with rival party leaders at the Blue House, asked for bipartisan cooperation to revive the economy on Tuesday.
Addressing her recent Middle East trip, Park said that it is essential for the 3 parties to cooperate to implement the deals signed in the Middle East, which aim to benefit people and businesses and to strengthen the basis for economic growth.
President Park explained that Korea should take advantage of the coming second Middle East boom to revive South Korea's economy when oil-rich Mideast countries push to diversify their economic portfolios, offering new business opportunities for Korean companies. “The new chances in such fields as health care, nuclear reactors, and information and communications technology will promise a higher state of potential economic effects than the prior one in the 1970s,” Park added while briefing them on the outcome of her trip. She also urged parliament to pass pending public livelihood bills which purpose to create jobs and revitalize the economy.
Opposition leader Moon Jae-in told Park that his party will cooperate with the government if there is something to cooperate about. Still, he slammed the government's economic and welfare policies, saying that they have failed to improve the people's livelihood. The Chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) listed four tasks calling for a change to increase household income for growth.
President Park rebutted his contention, setting forth a counterargument that the artificial income increase could lead to more taxes and reduced corporate activity. However, Park and the two other leaders shared the need to raise the nation's minimum wage, which has been set at 5,580 won (US$4.98) per hour this year, a 7.1 percent rise from 2014.
Among the top agenda items, the heads of the rival political parties reached a consensus with Park on reforming civil service pensions. It is a significant move given that previous governments delayed addressing the pension issue, despite the unsustainability of the current pension plan. As the average life expectancy increases deepening the pension deficit, the public servants’ pension reform has gained more urgency. During the meeting, the rival parties agreed on the controversial issue to come up with a compromise deal to reform civil service pensions by March 28 before putting it to a vote in the National Assembly by May 2.
In addition, Moon suggested for Park to make efforts to hold an inter-Korean summit this year to improve South and North relations. Park said that South Korea would try to hold dialogue with North Korea, making clear that she can meet with anyone if it helps to resolve such bilateral issues as the reunion of families separated by the Korean War.