The Korea Herald


S. Korea to continue push to sell stake in Incheon airport


Published : Nov. 14, 2011 - 16:34

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South Korea will keep pushing to sell a stake in the state-run Incheon International Airport to private investors in a bid to enhance its efficiency and global competitiveness, the nation's top economic policymaker said Monday.

The Lee Myung-bak administration announced a plan in 2008 to sell up to a 49 percent stake in Incheon airport in line with its drive to improve the overall business competitiveness of state-run enterprises. A bill is pending to allow for the stake sale.

The process, however, has been in limbo in the face of opposition from lawmakers and civic groups, which claim that the sale would result in hiking air service charges, with some even arguing that the stake sale would end up giving special favors just to foreign investors.

"(We will) do our best to get it passed," Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan told lawmakers when asked if he thinks that the bill would get through the National Assembly.

Bahk added that the government will also draw up measures to deal with any public concerns and continue to have consultations with those who object to the plan.

His remarks come as some raise doubts about the true motive behind the plan, saying that there is no reason to sell the airport, which is already regarded as the world's best in terms of its service quality and profitability.

Incheon airport, located west of Seoul, has been consecutively rated the best airport in the world by the Airports Council International. It opened for business in February 2002 with work on the second phase completed in June 2008.

The airport currently has three runways and handles more than 44 million passengers and 4.5 million tons of cargo every year, making it one of the busiest airports in the world. (Yonhap News)


<한글 기사>

박재완 "인천공항공사 매각 지속 추진"

박재완 기획재정부 장관은 14일 인천공항공사의 정부 보유지분 매각을 지속적으로 추진하겠다는 뜻을 밝혔다.

박 장관은 국회 예산결산특별위원회의 경제부처 2012년도 예산안 심사에 출석, "정부 지분 매각을 위한 인천공항공사법 개정안이 계류된 상태인데 통과될 것으로 보느냐"는 민주당 박기춘 의원의 질의에 "통과되도록 열심히 하겠다"고 답변했다.

박 장관은 "해외 국부유출, 특정업체 매각 등 국민의 우려에 대한 보완방안을 마련해 협의토록 하겠다"고 말했다.

앞서 국회 국토해양위원회는 지난 8일 전체회의를 열어 인천공항공사의 지분매각 예상대금 4천314억원을 내년도 국토해양부 세입예산에서 전액 삭감했고 이에 따라 인천공항공사법 개정안 처리도 사실상 어려워졌다는 전망이 제기됐다. 

박 장관은 이에 대해 "일부 지분을 매각해 인천공항 3단계 확장공사 때 도움을 받으려는 취지"라며 개정안의 국회 통과를 호소했다.

한편 김석동 금융위원장은 "은행의 최근 대출금리 인상이 타당하다고 보느냐"는 민주당 신학용 의원의 지적에 "시장에서 결정되는 가격"이라며 "점검하겠지만 현재로서는 금리 자체에 문제가 있다고 판단되지 않는다"고 답변했다.