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National Intelligence Service Spends 54 Percent of Budget on Special Operations

National Intelligence Service Spends 54 Percent of Budget on Special Operations

Posted August. 10, 2005 03:11,   


The amount that the government and the National Assembly have spent for special purposes has increased to a great degree each year, recording the highest amount last year.

In particular, the National Intelligence Service (NIS)’s expenditure in this regard was found to account for more than a half of the total, which does not look good at all since the agency has been targeted for its illegal eavesdropping activities in recent days. Besides, a suspicion has been growing that a certain amount of expenditures earmarked for other ministries’ special operations was actually for the use of the NIS.

According to the National Assembly Budget Office’s report to lawmaker Lee Kei-kyung on August 9, also the member of the Standing Committee on Budget and Accounts Deliberation, the total expenditure that 19 ministries and offices of the government and the National Assembly spent last year for special operations reached 713.669 billion won, which increased by 3.9 billion won from 709.773 billion won last year.

The high surge of expenditures for special operations could degrade the transparency of carrying out the budget, since the expenditure total does not require submitting receipts or an account for statement. For every ministry, where and how its expenditure for special operations is spent is very different

Under circumstances like this, the NIS’s special expenditure accounted for 54.5 percent of the budget, or 389.3 billion won, but the agency has refused to release the details of the statement, claiming that those were highly confidential.

The Ministry of Defense spent 262.7 billion won for special operations by the Defense Intelligence Command, the Defense Security Command, and Unit 5679, in charge of eavesdropping North Korea, followed by the National Police Agency (108.9 billion won), the Presidential Security Service (12.3 billion won), and the Office of the President (10.6 billion won).

The budget for the special operations has risen 2.5 times over a decade since 1994. Its annual increase rate recorded an increase of around 10 percent compared to the previous year, which is far higher than the increase rate of the entire budget (5-6 percent). Budget experts expressed a deep concern over the steep rise of expenditures for special operations that have a high possibility of being misused.

The most serious problem is that it is very difficult to track down the National Intelligence Service’s spending regarding special operations. Lawmaker Lee said that the government should be able to have a clear answer to the growing suspicions that the agency has hidden a certain amount of its budget in the other ministries’ reserved funds.

According to the stenographic records of the Standing Committee on Budget and Accounts Deliberation last December, when lawmakers pressed hard for an answer regarding the spending of 588 million won by the Ministry of Information and Communication, Jang Byeong-wan, the deputy minister for budget of the Ministry of Planning and Budget, said that the money was actually the budget put in for the NIS.

Jung-Eun Lee lightee@donga.com