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Controversy over Cash Compensation to Wido Residents

Posted July. 27, 2003 21:50,   


The government has decided to push for a special law offering residents of Wido, a newly designated nuclear repository site, cash incentives and providing financial assistance to Buan County, North Jelloa Province.

“We will revise related laws and regulations to give cash compensations to Wido residents,” Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Energy (MOCIE) Yoon Jin-sik and Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs Kim Doo-kwan said in Buan County on July 26.

They also said that the government will promise to push for a special legislation and establish a task force to provide financial assistance to the county, attract accelerator complex projects, relocate the headquarters of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., and build another campus of Chonbuk National University.

“If an amended legislation passes the National Assembly within this year, heads of local governments can make a decision on the use of special financial assistance,” said Lee Kwan-sup, an MOCIE official.

Apart from subsidies for social infrastructure, the cash incentives will be earmarked from special subsidies (300 billion won) in accordance to the law providing financial assistance to residents of the site and surrounding areas.

The government considers increasing the subsidy from 300 billion to 600 billion won as Buan County demanded.

“Some of Wido residents expect to receive between 300 million to 500 million won in cash compensations per household but the discussion has not been fully developed yet,” said another MOCIE official. As of July 15, there are 672 households and 1,468 residents in Wido, according to an official statistics by the ministry.

However, a controversy is likely to arise if cash incentives are given, since there are few precedents of cash compensations due to national projects and residents in other areas of the county or existing nuclear power plants can protest.

“If cash is given, it will set undesirable precedents and residents in other areas of avoided facilities can demand the same treatment,” said a KEPCO official on condition of anonymity.

“It is not only hard to draw the line of the amount but also undesirable to offer cash incentives to residents,” said an economics professor.

Still, some point out that considering Wido residents applied for the nuclear repository site mainly due to financial compensations, the government will have difficulties building the facilities in the area when it fails to provide a certain amount of cash.

“Most of us singed the application because an official of the business came here and said, ‘the government will give 500 million won per household,’” claimed Kim Hee-soon, a county representative of Buan. “If we don`t get cash or the amount is less than expected, we will withdraw the application,” she added.

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