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[Editorial] Too Many Government Committees

Posted December. 02, 2005 07:02,   


The budget requested by government committees--including presidential and prime ministerial committees--and planning and support teams for next year is estimated to be 550 billion won, double that of this year.

According to the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts (SCBA) of the National Assembly, the budgets requested by 25 advisory committees grew by 7.2 billion won to 33.9 billion won, and those by 26 planning and support teams increased by 246.6 billion won to 509.6 billion won.

We are not trying to criticize the establishment of committees that are critical in running the government and ensuring the allocation of budget money is done in an appropriate manner. But what if committees that are “the best workplaces for staffers but useless for the people” reign over government ministries and keep squandering taxpayers’ money?

The Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization (PCGID)’s budget for next year is 4.485 billion won. Within the budget, promotion expenditures and office lease and maintenance costs stand at 180 million won and 700 million won, respectively. It has 42 staffers and an office with the size of 420 pyeong, so each employee is actually occupying as large as 10 pyeong in its office.

Currently, there are some 370 government committees. It would be fair to say that the government is a “heaven” for committees. Under the current administration, 13 presidential committees and 15 prime ministerial committees were created. Even last month, President Roh Moo-hyun ordered the creation of the Water Resources Management Committee.

Most committees are created on the basis of presidential decrees, not laws, so it is difficult not only to supervise or keep in check these committees, but also to clarify their responsibilities. Chances are high that some of the committees might go beyond their power, as was the case with the Presidential Committee on Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative (PCNACI), which was involved in the controversial Haengdam Island development project.

The hundreds of billions of won spent in running these committees are undermining the productivity of state affairs management.

The SCBA should thoroughly eliminate “bubbles” and unnecessary items in budgets requested by government committees. On top of that, it should scrutinize whether so many committees are really necessary, whether some of their operations and functions overlap, and whether the number of staffers is reasonable. The reason why the government is accused of “extorting taxpayers’ money” is that by continuously expanding its committee organizations in a reckless way, the government has been single-mindedly collecting more taxes from citizens. Restructuring of government committees is the right way for government innovation.