'Corporate bashing' to deepen social divide, hurt economy: minister

February 2, 2012 11:56 am 

SEOUL, Feb. 2 — South Korea's top economic policymaker expressed concerns on Thursday that the recent "corporate bashing" by the political circles could end up deepening the social divide and may harm the economy.

The remarks by Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan came as some lawmakers are pushing for tougher regulations on family-owned conglomerates known as chaebol here. They include imposing additional taxes and reviving an equity investment ceiling on large business groups.

They argued that such moves could prevent concentration of wealth in just a few businesses and help the nation achieve what it calls "shared growth."

But critics claimed that politicians are just trying to win broader support from voters ahead of the April general elections.

"It is worrisome that the corporate bashing headed by the ruling and opposition parties could deepen a divide among citizens. Also, this phenomenon will not help our economy," Bahk told a crisis management meeting held in central Seoul with other policymakers.

"To overcome a crisis and achieve sustainable economic growth, we are now facing a critical moment when it is important to find a more fundamental change to narrow income imbalance. In particular, it is necessary to emphasize social responsibility by businesses for the sake of co-prosperity," he added.

Bahk said businesses should pay attention not just to maximizing their profits but also to fairly sharing their wealth to the society.

His remarks are in line with the minister's opposition to the ongoing debate among lawmakers to introduce more regulations for larger conglomerates. He earlier objected to imposing an additional tax on chaebol for their profits from equity investment.

During a luncheon meeting with foreign journalists on Monday, Bahk said the recent corporate bashing might be a "reaction to the polarization underway in the world" but he noted that the nation should stay away from "excessive denouncing of those who have money and power." (PNA/Yonhap)



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