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Lawmakers: “We Can Only Focus on Parliamentary Affairs”; Union: “How Can They Buy Their Houses with National Treasury Money?”

Lawmakers: “We Can Only Focus on Parliamentary Affairs”; Union: “How Can They Buy Their Houses with National Treasury Money?”

Posted May. 11, 2005 23:20,   


Regarding the National Assembly Secretariat’s (secretary general: Namgoong Suek) (NAS) plan to purchase officetels in the vicinity of the National Assembly by spending the national treasury for the sake of approximately 70 lawmakers from local provinces who have had difficulty in getting a house, the union of the NAS is opposing this plan.

It was known that the NAS has proceed with a plan in which it would buy a total of 33 officetels with 20 pyeong in Gongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul so that lawmakers can move into those houses in late September. In addition, it was made public that after purchasing those houses, the NAS would exempt lawmakers living there from paying most of the rent fees.

The National Assembly Headquarters of the Korean Government Employees’ Union (NAHKGEU) issued a statement on May 10, saying, “This scheme will not require the public’s agreement in any kind of causes under the current circumstances in which Korean lawmakers enjoy more privileges than any other representatives in the world.”

“Not only the principle of equity, but also such problems as letting those houses alone for a long time due to representatives’ trips abroad, will be able to come up in selecting lawmakers who are subjected to be offered,” pointed out the NAHKGEU.

An official of the NAHKGEU said, “To my knowledge, an average price of an officetel is 125 million won. Accordingly, the national treasury money worth around 4.2 billion won will be required in order to purchase 33 officetels.”

Korean lawmakers have received an annual salary of 100,971,200 won, including an 800 percent bonus, and a separate allowance of 2.518 million won, including maintenance expenses of vehicles and support money for gas. Moreover, the government has provided lawmakers with a separate monthly pay of 15,900,000 won for six aides per lawmaker.

A large percentage of lawmakers from local provinces are showing no concern over the union’s opposition, saying, “We will apply for it when an official notice is publicly announced.”

A first-term lawmaker representing Ulsan, who has been lodging with his aides, welcomed this plan by saying “I might not be in need of concern over things other than parliamentary affairs.”

A first-term lawmaker representing Busan showed his displeasure, saying, “I can’t grasp the NAS’s inner mindset that while it has been sensitive to its interest, it is planning to let distressed lawmakers be abused by the public.”

In response, the NAS declined to make a specific comment, saying, “It is pushing for a related plan.” An official of the NAS on condition of anonymity said, “If it assigns itself first to poor lawmakers on the basis of public disclosure of personal properties, it will not bring a big problem.”

Seung-Heon Lee ddr@donga.com