Finance Meetings for Workers Convened

Meetings and lectures were convened on the 8th to follow-up on the currency redenomination; explaining prices, wage standards, and payments between factories and enterprises.

A source from Yangkang Province reported the news on Wednesday in a telephone conversation with the Daily NK, “A lecture began at 2 P.M. yesterday. It was administrative education for managers of sub-Party organizations, Primary Party Committee secretaries and accounting clerks in factories.”

The source added, “The meeting was scheduled for the evening of the 9th, but if necessary it may continue on the morning of the 10th.”

These kinds of meetings were also held right after the fourth denomination replacement in 1992 and again after the July 1st Economic Management Reform Measure in 2002.

This time around, there are two kinds of lectures; one for cadres, and a separate one for administrative workers.

In the Yangkang cadres lecture there were major Party cadres from the People’s Committee of Yangkang Province, the Agricultural Accounting Committee of the province, People’s Safety Agency, May 16 Construction Bureau (a temporary organization overseeing each province’s construction projects) and Hyesan Steel Mill; office workers from the financial department of the Yangkang Province People’s Committee, accounting clerks and treasurers from factories and enterprises attended the administrative lecture. The lectures were held in the conference halls of the Provincial Party Committee.

The Hyesan Party Committee also reportedly convened lectures for cadres and workers in the same way in the conference hall of the Municipal Party Committee and the Kim Il Sung Revolutionary Ideology Institute in Hyejang-dong.

In the meetings and lectures, provision of payment and modes of transaction between factories, state designated prices for commodities and services and the setting of an upper limit for market prices were all rumored to be on the agenda.

Among them, wage levels and top limits for jangmadang prices are the most noteworthy items.

On the subject of wages, rumors apparently streamed out from around the conference halls; “They will maintain wage levels as was,” and, “Wage levels will be cut in half.”

If wages are maintained, or even cut in half, the monetary value of wages would increase from 50 to 100 times, or at least they would if prices remained the same.

To this end, the North Korean authorities are also expected to announce detailed rules whereby prices in markets may not exceed state-designated levels.

The source explained, “The state’s policy is to build a world where the people can live on their wages. The reason for the decree about the markets is to prevent prices rising.”

However, economists worry about the impact of these policies. If the authorities are not able to expand supply having raised wages substantially, and then they forcefully reduce market prices, in the long run hyperinflation will result and trading will become all-but impossible.

Especially, if the authorities take to printing money in order to pay for projects related to the construction of the “strong and prosperous state,” an unimaginable aftermath will be created.

Meanwhile, the source explained, “In some regions, food prices are already soaring. Traders don’t like this phenomenon, which at least reassures the authorities about the traders’ attitudes.”

However, he pointed out that even when the market works normally, price levels are not particularly stable.