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[Editorial] Belatedly, Prime Minister Blasts Government Waste

[Editorial] Belatedly, Prime Minister Blasts Government Waste

Posted October. 03, 2005 22:28,   


Prime minister Lee Hae-chan has requested the government launch a restructuring of government agencies, including freezing the salaries of public servants until 2010, after finding out that it would be difficult to finance the 3.6 trillion won which is scheduled to be injected into the social safety net project from 2007 to 2009.

A total of 8.6 trillion won will be spent on the project for the next four years. And he lashed out at concerned agencies, asking, “The resources can be secured if every agency cuts their spending by five percent. Do you think there is no budget wasted at all?”

The government has difficulty in securing resources for its social safety net project, mainly because it is spending much more money than tax revenues. The economic slump has resulted in the shortfall of tax revenues by trillions of won every year, while government spending has surged as the cost of compensation for properties has skyrocketed due to the sharp increase in land prices caused by reckless property developments nationwide.

If the government doesn’t want to issue more national bonds, which are already estimated to increase up to 300 trillion won next year, it has no other choice but to cut down on spending in other areas. National bonds are equivalent to national debts or taxes.

The prime minister seems to have been aware of why the national budget is being wasted. The government’s labor expenditure has exceeded the budget by more than one trillion won because the number of public servants increased by 23,000 in this administration alone. And it was found that 240 out of 1,700 public servants who were hired in addition to the prescribed number of servants, are unnecessary. But President Roh and the prime minister have been dismissing all criticism about big government, saying, ‘We are pursuing an efficient government.” The government’s fundamental responsibilities are to eliminate unnecessary parts of the government’s organization, reduce spending, and make the best use of the budget.

The prime minister warned that ministers, who are responsible for the failure of the social safety net project, can be dismissed because the project is one of the major national agreements. If he attaches such importance to the project, he should match his words with actions. He should set the standard himself by giving his word that he will step down if he can’t successfully carry out sweeping restructuring reforms, including freezing the salaries of public servants. It is especially true for the prime minister of the government which is being criticized for extorting taxes and wasting them.