The government's growth outlook for next year is "neutral," the finance mainister said Wednesday, shrugging off criticism that the projection is too optimistic considering current economic conditions.
"It is a neutral position to predict that the economy will grow 3.9 percent next year," Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok told lawmakers during a parliamentary audit session held here.
The remarks came amid worries that the government's growth forecast for next year might be too optimistic, compared with projections made by other think tanks and experts.
In its 2014 budget proposal, the government earlier anticipated that the local economy will grow 3.9 percent next year following a 2.7 percent gain this year.
The projection for next year is higher than the Bank of Korea's 3.8 percent growth outlook and a 3.7 percent growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund. This raises criticism that the government's growth estimate, which serves as a base for other projections such as next year's tax revenue, is too optimistic to attain.
Hyun admitted that the IMF and the central bank presented less optimistic growth outlooks but noted that there are some others that predicted that the economy will grow more than 4 percent. He also said that the government's outlook took into consideration the possible impact from its stimulus measures.
The minister still cautioned that the overall situation for the Korean economy remains tough, saying that the visibility is "not clear."
"The visibility for our economy is not clear," he said. "We have focused our policy throughout this year on reviving our economic vitality ... but I know that we still have a long way to go."
He cited external uncertainties stemming from Washington's tapering of its quantitative easing and growing volatility in emerging economies as possible risk factors that could weigh on the South Korean economy.