| Signs are emerging on President Park Geun-hye`s attitude in handling her pledges. At a meeting with senior secretaries on December 9 and 16, President Park is known to have ordered modification of pledges that have gap with reality and to go slow with pledges with low possibility of realization. To this end, her pledge to make a jeonse rent product that has minimal real demand was integrated into another product leading to its virtual cancellation, and the "happiness house construction" pledge that triggered resistance of interested parties was drastically reduced to 140,000 houses from 200,000 houses. Embracing the revival of National Security Council office that had gained strong negative views is also a display of flexibility.
Presidential election pledges are a promise to the public and it is the duty of a politician to make efforts to abide by them. However, a reckless observation can lead to more losses than gains. While it is needless to say that pledges should be carefully made before proposing to the public, it could be inevitable to modify or abolish them due to national fiscal situations, feasibility and unexpected external forces.
President Park lays importance on principles, trust and promise execution, Nevertheless, many key pledges have been revised downwards or delayed, including the support for four serious diseases, free childcare, half-price college tuition fees, reduction of mandatory military service to 18 months, and legalizing retirement age at age 50 in connection with wage peak system. Further revisions and abolitions could lead to criticism of not keeping promise. Yet the president should take responsible attitude of adjusting her pledges if conditions demand even at the risk of being criticized. For those that have but to be adjusted, she should explain this in detail to the public and ask for sufficient understanding.
The government set up next year budget plan of 375.7 trillion won (337 U.S. billion dollars) in 25.9 trillion won (24.4 billion dollars) deficit. The pledge account book contains preparation of 134.8 trillion won (127 billion dollars) during the president`s five-year term to carry out 104 national affairs projects. This is a reduction from pledges made in general and presidential elections last year when populism had prevailed. With government debt having topped 500 trillion won (471 billion dollars) this year, increasing debt for executing pledges can threaten the national fiscal situation. Priority should be on solidifying the basis of national economy. President Park has no reason not to readjust her pledges.