Posted February. 13, 2005 23:02,
Some ruling and opposition lawmakers are pushing forward a reform of the provincial administrative system which currently consists of three steps: city-province, city-county-gu, and eup-myun-dong. They say that the existing system was outlined under Japanese colonial rule and that it should change as it is no longer suitable to establishment and enforcement of national development strategies not to mention the enhancement of efficiency of administration.
Some GNP lawmakers say that they will soon submit a revision of the Local Government Act to the National Assembly, which stipulates abolition of metropolitan city-provinces and reform of 234 city-county-gu to 60 to 70. The ruling Uri Party is also collecting signatures from lawmakers in order to submit a resolution on the reform of the provincial administrative system.
It is true that many experts have questioned the wisdom of the existing multi-layer provincial administrative system in this digital era. They said that the steps of the provincial administrative districts should be reduced, as the Internet has made it possible to figure and deal with administrative needs anywhere anytime. That is the right argument. By reducing just one step of the administrative system can lead to a considerable savings of national budget.
Also, in order to successfully achieve decentralization, which is the Roh Moo-hyun governments priority, the issue should be reviewed in earnest. Even if the central government hands over authority and money to local governments based on the principle of decentralization, it would be of no use unless the local governments have enough capabilities to utilize them. There should be a discussion on a provincial administrative system best suited to the achievement of the goals of decentralization and balanced development first.
The issue of reform of the provincial administrative system would not be easily concluded as interests of many different interest parties, including local officials, are intertwined. However, something should be done about it. It is high time to make the issue public as some corners of the ruling and opposition camps are raising questions about it. It would be hard to discuss the issue next year as there will be local elections. If necessary, the National Assembly should form a joint special commission between the government and the private sector to start a discussion. It is not right to maintain a system that does not go along with the situation.