Capacity and diversity matter
On Sunday, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol nominated candidates to head eight ministries. Announcing the nominations at a press conference, Yoon said he bases his decisions on individuals’ expertise in their fields. The president-elect also stressed that he did not take into account the regional origin of the candidates or their gender. His appointments reflect a campaign promise to appoint senior civil servants on the basis of their competence, not factors aimed at ensuring an artificial balance in the Cabinet.
The biggest challenge for the new administration is the economic crisis. Coupled with excessive liquidity amid the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, our consumer price index climbed into the 4% range, the highest in 10 years. Despite countries’ efforts to calm inflation by raising interest rates, the economic recovery is slow. Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, a candidate for finance minister, said he would give top priority to stabilizing prices, but he has a seemingly contradictory plan to spend an additional 50 trillion won (40 $.7 billion) to stimulate the economy.
Another challenge is how to stabilize the real estate market. The new administration must correct the regulatory policies of the Moon Jae-in administration. But apartment prices are already showing signs of rising even before the start of the new government on May 10. the government must listen to the various stakeholders to design effective building policies. The new administration’s economic team should be made up of policymakers who follow market principles rather than adhere to ideology-based policies like the Moon administration’s “revenue-led growth” policy. We hope that the candidates for the positions of Minister of Industry and Minister of Science and Technology will create jobs through deregulation and the promotion of new industries.
We welcome Yoon’s decision to appoint Professor Kim Hyun-sook to head the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs despite controversy over the ministry itself. The new government does not have to rekindle the deep conflict around the ministry. Instead, he is expected to maintain some ministry functions even after government reorganization. We also hope that the candidates for the leadership of the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Health and Welfare will do their best.
But it is unfortunate that the candidates are all men, with the exception of the candidate for the head of the Ministry of Gender, and aged between their late 50s and 60s. We hope the Conservative administration will embody more diversity when appointing the heads of other departments.