A proposed government budget cut in South Korean infrastructure projects for next year has been met with strong opposition from local construction companies.
“We express our grave concern over a huge cut in social overhead capital (SOC) spending by the government for 2018,” a group of five construction bodies said in a press conference held on Tuesday, urging the government to keep the 2018 budget draft in the 20 trillion won ($17.7 billion) range at least, which is a similar level to this year.
Last month, the government submitted a budget proposal to the National Assembly that includes infrastructure spending of 17.7 trillion won, which is the lowest in 13 years.
The construction industry is worried that the government not only slashed next year’s infrastructure spending but also plans to cut the budget at an annual average of 7.5 percent over the next five years. In such case, infrastructure spending will shrink to about 16 trillion won in 2021.
The press conference was jointly organized by the Construction Association of Korea, the Korea Specialty Contractors Association, the Korea Housing Association, the Korea Housing Builders Association, and the Korea Mechanical Construction Contractors Association.
“Construction means welfare and job creation. An appropriate level of investment in infra projects leads to more convenience in transportation and provides a pleasant living environment, improving the public’s welfare, creating 15,000 new jobs and helping boost the regional economy.”
The builders’ associations went on to say that construction protects the safety and life of the people. Improvement and maintenance of old facilities cannot be neglected when lives are being threatened by aging bridges, roads and schools.
By Chung Soon-woo
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