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Responsibility and Self-Governance Localized By 2005

Posted July. 04, 2003 21:48,   


The current organization for police in the Republic of Korea will be divided into two areas: the national police and local police starting from as early as September, 2005. On the educational front, a local educational self-governance system will be introduced so that each city and province can determine its own curriculums and entrance exams for elementary, junior and high schools.

On July 4, the Government Reform & Decentralization Committee under the Office of the President announced a roadmap for 20 tasks in 7 areas that should be implemented in the next five years saying that it will strongly push forward with a decentralization policy including its plan to transfer a significant part of central power to local governments.

The Committee decided to make a new package transfer law in three stages to implement the transfer from 2004 to 2006 and complete legislation regarding the introduction of the new local police and local educational systems by 2005.

For special areas such as Cheju, the committee plans to implement a holistic self-governance system by bestowing total power in relation to administration and financial rights. 6539 special local administration institutes which perform the duplicate roles as local self-governing bodies will be consolidated in an orderly fashion by 2006.

In order to decentralize the administration of finances, the government will introduce a comprehensive system to provide 11 trillion won worth of government subsidies for various projects by 2004 while making other arrangements to improve local government finances. The current finance rate between the central and local governments stands at 51 versus 49, but will be changed to 45 versus 55 by the year 2008.

The committee will also create a new support system for local elective positions before the local election of 2006 to strengthen the function of local assemblies. In addition, a new human resource management project will be presented during 2004 to provide a better work environment for local public officials.

In relation to the new support system for local elective positions, the committee is considering a way to raise and spend funds only through acknowledged public accountants by introducing a financial management system.

There has been voiced support that funds for a self-governing body chief should be set lower than that for current members of the National Assembly.

To solidify civil responsibility in the local government, various new systems may be introduced.

For the new local education and police systems, their bills will be set up by 2004 and implemented the following year. However, with the full changeover on the horizon, some 200,000 teachers may show strong resistance since they will not belong to national positions anymore under the new system.

Committee Chairman Kim Byung-joon said that “the issue has yet to be defined.”

He added, “Government subsidies or special taxes are very useful for the President to control local self-governing bodies, but President Roh showed his determination not to stick to the prerogative. This clearly shows that the current administration has a strong will to decentralize central power.”

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com