The National Assembly passed Tuesday night the budget for next year, which is worth 513 trillion won, 9.3 percent up from this year’s budget. This is the second year the Moon Jae-in administration’s budget increased more than nine percent, adding 85 trillion won to the original 428-million budget in 2018. Nevertheless, the National Assembly cut it only by 1.2 trillion won. It had come under fire for passing the 470-trillion-won budget after cutting it only by 5.2 trillion won last December, only to repeat the same, if not worst, mistake this year. This time, there was more room to reduce as the government budget tends to be larger for the year when the general elections will be held. However, the cut was smaller than last year, proving the National Assembly was only pretending to make the cut for the optics.
Lawmakers not only increased the existing budget but also added new items to the plan. The budget for the transport safety improvement project of the city of Sejong, which is represented by ruling Democratic Party of Korea Chairman Lee Hae-chan, went up by 512 million won from 950 million won. Additional five billion won was allocated to the construction project of Uiseong, Gunwi, Gumi represented by Rep. Kim Jae-won of the Liberty Korea Party. Rep. Cho Bae-sook of the Party for Democracy and Peace managed to secure 725 million won for creating a tourist site for Mireuksaji Stone Pagoda in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, which did not exist in the plan. The National Assembly increased the budget by whopping 10 trillion won before cutting only 1.2 trillion won.
To make things worse, the budget discussion was held behind closed doors, and there is no visibility as to how the budget was allocated to whom. The budget approval process was never easy. However, it was at least negotiated through the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts last year before it was put to vote. The committee is an official organization and keeps records of discussions. However, the so-called “4+1 coalition” consisting of the Democratic Party of Korea, the Bareunmirae Party, the Justice Party and the New Alternatives, which is not even a political party, discussed the budget and then put it to vote, which passed in the plenary session. As “4+1 coalition, not an official organization, left no records at all, any irregularities in the budget should be investigated and confiscated.
The role of the National Assembly is to keep the government in check. This is especially true when it comes to the government budget, which comes from taxpayers’ money. However, ruling party lawmakers have become a “servant of the administration” and lawmakers with power, regardless of their affiliation, are busy trying to make personal gains. Voters should remember every single one of the lawmakers who did not listen to them blinded by their own greed, and make them pay the price through the ballot box.