SEOUL, Nov.6 (Korea Bizwire) – Controversy over populism is stirring after Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to give benefits to young people who are preparing to get a job.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it will give benefits of an average of 500,000 won for as long as six months to unemployed young people and graduates-to-be who earn below 60 percent of the median income.
City officials explain that the intentions of the policy are to support the ‘young people outside society’, giving a stepping stone to those who have failed in finding stable employment.
However, some have pointed out that the policy will be ineffective as it is only a form of populism. They expressed their concern that simply handing out money to young people would kill their urge to work, and more practical measures should be taken such as providing education that can lead to actual jobs.
Some see the policy as ‘free welfare’ which is similar to a ‘youth allocation’ policy in the suburb of Seongnam, in which the city gives one million won to young people living in the area. Saenuri Party chairman Kim Moo-sung once criticized the policy for being a “typical act of populism that is making an attempt to buy the hearts of young people with money”.
Seoul city officials claim that the benefits they are giving to young people are completely different from the ‘youth allocation’. The ‘youth allocation’ is given out to young people regardless of their income or employment to assure their fundamental rights.
On the other hand, the benefits Seoul is planning to give out are provided after screening to select those who are most in need. City officials add that they only provide young people that are chosen with money for expenses that are needed in their quest to find a job, such as money for transportation and meals.
Therefore, Seoul insists that since the policy is not a welfare system, there is no need for discussion with the Ministry of Welfare to pass it.
However, the Ministry of Welfare sees the policy as a ‘new welfare system’ that requires consultation between the local government and the Ministry of Welfare. Since the Ministry of Welfare has already turned down a proposal by the Seongdong District Office, which suggested a policy to support unemployed young people, there is a high possibility that they would also put on the brakes this time.
Since the policy only plans to support 3,000 people under a nine billion won budget, some are also saying that the policy lacks fairness. Seoul plans to support a total of 15,000 young people over a period of five years, starting next year. However, considering that there are more than 500,000 young people that are lost between school and employment, it seems as though the policy will only be able to only support a very small number of people, making it ‘a pie in the sky’ for most of those in need.
By Francine Jung (email@example.com)