President Park Geun Hye Calls For Drastic Measures to Boost Consumption

D-Bo , June 29, 2015, 9:29 a.m.

President Park Geun-hye called Monday for drastic measures to stimulate consumption to help revive economic growth as South Korea's economy was hit hard by the spread of the MERS virus.

The outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has hurt consumption and the service sector as many people have been staying at home to avoid any risk of being infected with the disease.

The virus has so far killed 32 people since May 20, when the country's first infection was confirmed. South Korea reported no additional MERS cases for a second consecutive day Monday, a possible sign that the virus is on the wane.

"We should come up with drastic measures to boost consumption to quickly get our economy back on track for normal growth," Park said in a regular meeting with her top aides at Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office.

She also asked businesses to go ahead with their initial investment plans to help revive the economy. Her comments came four days after the government lowered the country's 2015 economic growth outlook to 3.1 percent, citing slumping exports and the negative impact of the MERS outbreak on Asia's fourth-largest economy.

She also told officials to swiftly push for a series of measures that were unveiled last week to help revive the economy. The government is pushing to inject more than 15 trillion won (US$13.5 billion) into the economy by asking parliament for extra budget and by utilizing various state-run funds.

She also renewed her calls to speed up cutting red tape to revitalize the economy, saying there are still regulations that hinder investment and job creation. Park has been pushing to lift or ease all but core regulations to help reinvigorate South Korea's economy, calling unnecessary business restrictions "our archenemy" and a "cancer."

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