By Na Jeong-ju
President Lee Myung-bak called for non-partisan support for the administration, Monday, to ensure the successful hosting of the G20 summit next month, saying the forum will provide a historic opportunity for Korea to join the ranks of the advanced countries.
“As the host of the upcoming G20 summit, Korea’s international status will strengthen and rise. We should unite together to make the event a success,” Lee said in an address to the National Assembly, read by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, as the legislature opened a plenary session to review the government-proposed budget for next year.
“We will not only get direct economic benefits from hosting the G20 summit, but also the invisible benefits of improving the national image, and it will greatly propel future stable growth of our economy.”
The National Assembly adopted a resolution Monday to provide full support for Seoul’s successful hosting of the summit.
Initiated by Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae, the resolution was endorsed by 278 lawmakers of six political parties, including the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, the government proposed a 5.7 percent increase in next year’s budget to 309.6 trillion won ($270 billion), but rival parties are expected to clash over some government-initiated infrastructure and welfare projects, including the controversial four-river refurbishment project.
President Lee said it was “very fortunate” that the two-day G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors last week made progress on key issues.
The participants agreed to avoid “selfish” foreign exchange rate policies and tackle trade imbalances, raising hopes for an end to the ongoing global currency war and more positive outcomes from the Seoul summit.
On domestic issues, the conservative leader called for cooperation in creating a “fair society,” his centerpiece campaign for the latter half of his five-year tenure.
“We will enhance society’s credibility by executing the law according to principle and in a strict and transparent manner,” Lee said. “Creating a culture of mutual respect and abiding by the law is very important.”
Lee also emphasized the need to pursue balanced growth between the country’s large, family-owned conglomerates and smaller companies to ensure fair business practices.
He also pledged to drastically expand budget expenditures for the low-income and working-class people.
Out of the 309.6 trillion won budget set for next year, the government will spend 32 trillion won to support the working class and 24 trillion won to boost the country’s economic recovery and growth potential and provide more overseas aid.
Turning to inter-Korean relations, Lee reaffirmed his earlier pledge to ensure peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula by achieving the denuclearization of North Korea.
“We should build an economic community with the North through a broad range of projects encouraging cooperation and help to improve the lives of the North Korean people," he said.
Lee also vowed to strengthen national security and reform the military to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy as the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, which is blamed on Pyongyang.
“The government will push for fundamental and powerful reforms to make the military stronger and more advanced,” Lee said.