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Presidential Office Spending Increases

Posted November. 15, 2005 03:08,   


Compared to 2003, the first year of the participatory government, the 2006 budget for Cheong Wa Dae has drastically increased in the area of public relations and labor costs. According to the report "Review of the Planned Budget for Presidential Office for the Year 2006," published by the House Steering Committee on November 14, compared to the 46.363 billion won in 2003, the budget for presidential office for next year is set for 61.468 billion won, an increase of 32.6 percent. The budget for 2003 was drawn up by the Kim Dae-jung administration.

In particular, PR and labor costs have expanded dramatically. The Presidential Secretary Office has allocated 2.125 billion won in 2003 as costs for government policy review and public relations. For 2006, expenditure for the same category has been increased by 53.9 percent to 3.272 billion won. As for labor costs, the budget has increased from 17.710 billion won to 24.653 billion, a 39.2 percent increase. The main factor that contributed to the increase in labor costs is the organizational restructuring of the presidential office, which occurred following President Roh Moo-hyun`s inauguration and has added 95 more permanent staff, ending up with 500 staff in total.

With regard to the cost for policy review and public relations, increased spending on public opinion research catches attention. Starting this year, Cheong Wa Dae has newly adopted the “Preliminary Research for Government Policy Direction,” “In-Depth Research for Issues of Critical Importance,” and “Research for Public Opinion on Key Policies.” This expanded public opinion research costs from 920 million won in 2003 to 1.481 billion won in 2006. Expenses such as operational costs for the advisory group, external research on policy problems, issuance of personal message of president, and purchase of souvenir gifts for Cheong Wa Dae visitors are also included in the spending for policy review and public relations

Although it is not included in the policy review and PR costs, production cost for a reduced printed edition of Cheong Wa Dae briefings (25 million won), audiovisual material for Cheong Wa Dae visits (80 million won), and operational cost for netizen policy review group (12 million won) are included in the budget in separate categories.

The outlay for facility improvement fluctuates annually, but the budget for the next year will be around four times the 2003 budget. Installation of storm windows and double doors alone would use up 2.280 billion won and repair work on the chief presidential secretary`s official residence and residence for staff will be in the hundred millions of won.

The budget item “costs for asset procurement,” which is intended to cover expenses for buying office equipment, electric appliances, lighting equipment, and etc., has been incremented by a narrow range, from 704 million won in 2003 to 835 million won in 2006. However, within this item, miscellaneous costs have increased by 232.6 percent, from 46 million won this year to 153 million won next year. This covers expenses for purchasing vacuum cleaners, treadmills, water purifiers, books, and art works.

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com