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(LEAD) S. Korea should save policy 'ammunition' to brace for future challenges: minister
DAEGU, Nov. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea should save its policy "ammunition" to brace for future challenges for its economy, the finance minister said Monday, reaffirming his reluctance to open government coffers to prop up the weakening economic growth.

   The remarks by Bahk Jae-wan come amid growing demand from the political community that the government needs to take proactive measures to support the economy, which is showing signs of losing its growth momentum in the face of heightened uncertainty at home and abroad.

   The minister has expressed his reservations against the demand that includes an increase in the budget for next year, saying that the current conditions do not warrant such a measure.

   Bahk said that he is "well aware" of the growing demand for the government to do something right away to help the livelihoods of ordinary people hard-hit by the slumping economy, but he feels it's "irresponsible" to take actions destined only to drain the country's future policy capacity.

   "I am sometimes tempted to unload all the ammunition that we have to support the economy as we near the end of this government's term, but it is too irresponsible if the efforts just result in draining our policy capacity without any effect," he told business people in this city, some 302 kilometers south of Seoul.

   "Unlike 2008, many countries in the world do not have sufficient fiscal capacity, or they lowered their interest rates to almost zero, which makes it more difficult for them to take any fiscal or monetary policies," he said. "(Such polices) could become like pouring water into a bottomless jar."

   Bahk noted that he will leave the ammunitions that the next government will be able to use to cope with future challenges "with conviction," referring to the new administration that will take office earlier next year following the Dec. 19 presidential election.

   kokobj@yna.co.kr
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