SEOUL, March 11 (Yonhap) -- More than six out of 10 South Koreans believe that President Park Geun-hye cannot implement the welfare programs she promised during her election campaign without raising taxes, a survey showed Monday.

The telephone survey released by the Economic Reform Research, an independent economic institute, found that 65.6 percent of 800 respondents said that President Park Geun-hye could not implement her welfare programs without raising taxes.

The survey taken on March 2 has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, according to the institute.

Park has also vowed to regularize the so-called underground economy to establish "tax justice," noting the shadow economy is equivalent to 24 percent of the country's nominal gross domestic product.

The shadow economy refers to economic activities such as gambling and prostitution, which are not calculated in a country's official GDP data and leaves the government unable to impose taxes.

Experts say that the government needs about 135 trillion won (US$124.3 billion) during Park's five-year term to enforce diverse welfare benefits, including free child care and subsides for college tuition, among other things.

Still, Park has ruled out raising taxes to finance welfare programs.

The survey showed that only 30.5 percent believe that Park can carry out her welfare programs without tax hikes.

Meanwhile, the respondents were equally divided over whether Park is committed to following through on her pledge to bring about economic democratization in a country that has been dominated by family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol.

Park has vowed to stop chaebol from abusing their power, and to protect mom-and-pop stores and smaller firms by strengthening regulations meant to ensure fair business practices.

The survey showed 45.6 percent believe Park's commitment toward economic democratization remains unchanged while 46.4 percent said her commitment has been weakened.

Park has pledged to help make small businesses the next growth engine in Asia's fourth-largest economy and to shift the economy from one that relies heavily on the exports of large conglomerates to one in which both big and small firms coexist.

Still, the survey showed that 56.6 percent believe that the government policy toward corporations is centered on large companies.

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