North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un has openly accused his Cabinet of incompetence in the face of mounting economic problems in the isolated communist country, according to state media.
"The Cabinet failed to play a leading role in mapping out plans of key economic fields," Kim was reported to have said on Thursday at a plenary session of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party.
He went on to accuse his Cabinet of being overly focussed on generating economic figures and meeting arbitrary targets instead of coming up with "clear tactics" to get the economy moving.
Kim's remarks at the four-day session, which concluded on Thursday, come a month after he admitted economic policy mistakes at a congress of the ruling Workers' Party.
Goals of the five-year development plan established in 2016 had been missed "in most areas," Kim said at the time, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The congress in January then adopted a new five-year plan, which the subject of the party discussions this week.
A series of natural disasters, including floods and storm damage, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, have taken their toll on the reclusive country, which is also subject to tough international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea moved swiftly to close its borders as the coronavirus spread, strongly impacting foreign trade with China, which is considered the country's lifeline.