labor camp
FILE PHOTO: A view of Yanggang Province from the Chinese side of the China-North Korea border. (Daily NK)

Commercial entities in Yanggang Province that failed to fulfill their economic plans for the first half of the year were rebuked during a recent meeting of the province’s people’s committee, Daily NK has learned.

A source in the province told Daily NK on Friday that the people’s committee held a six-hour video conference with management-level officials from various companies on June 17.

“Calling on enterprises to take the failure to achieve plans for the people’s economy seriously, officials at the meeting pressed government agencies and enterprises that failed to achieve plans to take responsibility [for their failures], and discussed how to deal with the problems,” said the source.

He went on to say that the committee read out a long report on how plans for the first half of the year have worked out, including the circumstances that emerged in the process of carrying out those plans. The committee expressed regret over the failure to produce results, and discussed plans to improve public livelihoods and once again revive the economy in line with the needs of the province. 

Commercial activities were at the core of the meeting’s discussions. The committee stressed the need for changes in past dependence on trade and smuggling, calling for self-reliance in production and commercial activities. 

“The people’s committee didn’t say market-focused economics were fundamental [to achieving economic plans]. Rather, officials called on participants to think of markets as auxiliary, and encouraged the commercial sector to build a system to carry out plans for the people’s economy, taking into account the markets and the nation’s economic structure,” the source said. 

During the meeting, officials also called for “merciless” crackdowns on people selling banned items in markets and sellers who arbitrarily raise the cost of fixed-price items so they can earn more money.

Moreover, the committee condemned price gougers taking advantage of skyrocketing prices due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the closure of the national borders for “bringing great chaos to people’s lives.” Provincial officials further warned that they would order the confiscation of business certificates from merchants who violate the rules to make sure everyone plays on a level field. 

The committee also warned that restaurants and shops failing to meet plans for the people’s economy while engaging in price gouging will face fines or criminal punishment for “scoffing at the decisions of the party.” In short, officials made clear that such behavior would be considered a willful violation of the party’s efforts to simultaneously combat COVID-19 and revive the economy.

“Officials ended the meeting by saying that, the harder conditions get, the more officials need to identify ways to implement the plans of the people’s economy,” the source said, adding, “They warned that any officials complaining and changing their attitudes or perspectives toward the implementation of [economic] plans would be subject to comprehensive review and [possible] punishment.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to