North Korea's Kim calls for thorough implementation of five-year economic plan

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SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called on his ruling Workers’ Party to thoroughly implement the five-year economic plan, posited at a rare congress last month, state news agency KCNA reported on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as Kim chaired a plenary meeting of the ruling party’s central committee on Monday, following a rare congress in January where he said his past five-year economic plan had failed.

Kim sharply criticized the “passive and self-protecting tendencies revealed by the state economic guidance organs in the course of setting this year’s goals”, KCNA said.

He stressed the need to provide the party members with practical means of innovation that would help bring about realistic change and substantial progress from the first year of the five-year plan, KCNA said.

Kim laid out detailed tasks for the party to attain the economic goals of increased iron and steel production and investment, as well as a push for better infrastructure, transportation, construction and commerce.

He had sought to accelerate economic growth and boost electricity supply, but U.N. agencies reported chronic power and food shortages, exacerbated by sanctions, the COVID-19 pandemic and severe floods.

“He evinced the determination and will of the Party Central Committee to take important measures to push forward the economic construction and provide the people with more stable and improved living conditions despite the persistent emergency anti-epidemic situation,” KCNA reported.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but it has imposed strict border closures, domestic travel restrictions and other measures to prevent an outbreak.

Kim made an appearance for the first time in a few weeks after he was seen at a parade in Pyongyang that showed off what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) last month.

Reporting by Sangmi Cha in Seoul; Editing by Matthew Lewis