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Parties Wrangling Over 2007 Budget

Posted November. 25, 2006 08:10,   


The struggle has begun between the ruling and opposition parties on the government budget of the New Year, which is compiled at 238 trillion won (158 trillion won of general accounts) on the basis of gross expenditure.

On November 24, the Uri Party announced, “We need to seek an economic revitalization through expanded fiscal expenditures, and the government intends to maintain the amount of budget it handed in.” Previous to this, the Grand National Party decided to cut 12 trillion won, saying that the budget bill is a “preferential budget” targeting the presidential election next year.

According to a report titled the “Revision on the Budget Bill of the New Year” (1,195 pages) drafted by Shin Hae-ryong, chief expert adviser of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts of the National Assembly, immediately preceding the Assembly deliberation on the budget bill of the new year, there are many cases in which government bodies make irrational and wasteful application for budgets, fail to spend the budget after securing it, or spend it on different purposes.

The Report Center for Budgets Wasted-

According to the report, the planning and budget division drew up 72 million won of the budget as a “consultant fee” stating that it needs 11 private specialist consultants for the on-site examination of waste budget cases. Between January and August of this year, a total of 388 cases of wasted budget were reported to the Report Center for Budgets Wasted. The report raised the opinion that it is wasteful to designate 11 private consultants other than the two officers of the report center in order to handle 48.4 cases a month on average. In other words, the Report Center for Budgets Wasted was commented to be wasting the budget.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development drew up 53.929 billion won of the budget for expanding its equipment for experiments and practices in national universities. The equipment the universities applied for included camcorders, digital cameras and personal computers. It was revealed that the budget was spent to purchase refrigerators, water purifiers, and mp3 players.

The report raised the concern on budget waste based on past cases in which some of the budget categories were transacted inappropriately.

Publicizing and Reform Projects; the Principal Offenders of Budget Waste-

As pointed out in the report, many of the budget waste cases involved “publicizing” and “reform” projects accentuated by the current government.

The Ministry of Unification compiled 92 million won for next year’s customer reserve points, one of the categories under the policy to give incentive to those who take part in the events of the ministry. But according to the report, only 6 million won out of the 157 million won of budget allotted was spent on this project. Dispatching 14 persons to North Korea to monitor the distribution of the aid to North Korea and to experience and study Mount Geumgang was what the project entailed. One hundred million won was diverted as the administration cost of the office.

The Board of Audit and Inspection applied for 1.505 billion for the nominal purpose of reforming audit tasks. The report raised the opinion that the budget needs to be adjusted, since less than half of the projects planned were executed this year, and most of that portion was allotted towards similar projects such as special lectures and leadership courses.

South-North Interchange Projects: Obtaining Approval for Budget Supersedes All?-

The Ministry of Science and Technology applied for 785 million won for the South-North technology interchange project, adding 135 million won to the amount last year. However, it has shown little performance, insofar as being unable to organize a committee for this project since 1999.

For the South-North broadcasting interchange project, promoted by the Korean Broadcasting Commission, 3.5 billion won was allotted. This commission set forth projects such as the South-North broadcasters’ talks and the production of joint programs by the two Koreas, but only 206 million won (7.4 percent of the total allotted), was executed by June of this year. The Korean Broadcasting Commission applied for 2.65 billion won with the same nominal purposes.

Aid for Inappropriate Civil Organizations-

The National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea compiled 375 million won as the budget for joint cooperation projects with human rights organizations next year.

The report said, “Aid was given to organizations that are quite far from being civil organizations such as subsidiary institutes of universities, and in many cases, the allotment was partial to certain fields.” The Legislation-Judiciary Committee decided to admit to the opinion of the report and to curtail its budget.

More than just Budget Cuts-

The Special Committee on Budget and Accounts of the National Assembly carries out more than simply recommending budget cuts. The Ministry of National Defense drew up 1.3594 trillion won for equipment management costs, but the report recommended reviewing for a budget expansion, saying that 97 percent of combat planes’ reserve engines are in unusable condition and that 24 percent of the orbit equipments such as tanks are in need of repair, indicating serious wear and a backlog of equipment.