regional development-plans

SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) -- The government plans to develop at least 10 major cities throughout the country in an effort to ensure a more balanced expansion of the nation, the land ministry said Thursday.

The move comes as Seoul currently houses nearly one fifth of the country's entire population, with close to 50 percent of the population living in the capital area that includes the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

In a report to President Park Geun-hye, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said it will work to develop 10 or more major cities that will serve as regional hubs.

To this end, the government will also launch a comprehensive study in June to check demands for new airports or expansion of existing facilities throughout the country, according to the ministry.

The ministry had been expected to announce plans to inject greater competition into the country's railway system, which is currently monopolized by the state-run Korea Railroad, but it said such a decision required additional consideration.

Such measures under government consideration include the establishment of a second public firm to partly operate the country's KTX high-speed trains, as well as partial privatization of railway services, according to earlier reports.

The ministry also said it will help the country's construction companies win more overseas orders with their combined orders rising to US$100 billion in 2017 from $64.9 billion last year.

This will turn the country into the world's fifth-largest builder, it said.

The ministry also offered plans to increase transparency and efficiency in the country's shipping and handling industry, a key campaign pledge of the president, which she claims can help lower consumer prices.

The ministry said it will seek to strengthen penalties for large logistics companies that give most of their deals to affiliates without due process, such as bidding.

However, for those who award their business deals to third parties, the government will provide additional incentives, including tax breaks, it said.

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