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[Editorial] As Citizens Cut Corners, Will the Government Do Likewise?

[Editorial] As Citizens Cut Corners, Will the Government Do Likewise?

Posted September. 09, 2005 07:43,   


The Korean government has announced that it will spend 221 trillion won next year. This amount is 6.5 percent bigger than this year`s expenditure. Tax revenues will not be enough to cover the next year`s expenditure, so the government will issue deficit government bonds worth of nine trillion won. The government claims that in order to enhance growth and distribution, and promote self-reliant defense and balanced local development, it is unable to reduce the spending. President Roh Moo-hyun has refused a tax cut by stating, "Suggest which budget items to cut," to Park Geun-hye, Chairperson of the Grand National Party. It means that the government will spend as it wishes.

The Korean people would have to cut back their spending even on the essentials in order to pay taxes and finance government debt. Take a look at the statistics. For instance, a household of four had its tax burden increased from 11,360,000 won in 2002 to 13,600,000 won in 2005. If one adds national pension and health care fees, a citizen`s share of the burden reaches 17,400,000 won. The national tax alone will be increased to 11,400,000 won next year from 10,350,000 won this year. No doubt the entire tax and other burdens will also go up drastically. Furthermore, government debt, which is going to increase from 20,360,000 won to 23,000,000 won, is also going to fall on the shoulders of the people.

These days, people are cutting their spending. According to the National Statistical Office, the average monthly income of national households has fallen to 2,850,000 won in the second quarter; it was previously 2,930,000 won in the first quarter. Expenditures also dropped from 2,120,000 won to 1,940,000 won. Spending on education, light and heat, water, health care, transportation, communication and so forth has also decreased. People are saving on tap water and holding out on doctor`s visits. As taxes increase, people`s purses are in for more squeezing.

President Roh asserted that "we pursue an efficient government which does its task. The organization has been expanded, yet we have reduced careless spending." However, it sounds quite ridiculous to the people who have witnessed numerous cases of budget waste. What about the cases disclosed by the Board of Audit and Inspection and the civil groups? Has the government improved its efficiency by enlarging the cabinet with 22 ministers and vice-ministers, and establishing 12 new government policy advisory committees?

As the inefficient public sector expands, the private sector is shrinking and consequently, the economy gets worse and the people`s quality of life degrades as well. This has been shown by the participatory government in the last two and a half years. If the government understands the pain people experience when they cut costs at the expense of educating their children and their parents` allowances, it is sincerely hoped that the government, at least, attempt to share their pain by cutting down its expenditures.