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[Editorial] Ballooning Special Budget

Posted November. 25, 2006 08:10,   


The Roh Moo-hyun administration is expected to spend 3.664 trillion won in five years (if the 2007 budget is included) on “special activities” which do not require review by the Board of Audit and Inspection and the National Assembly, according to the Budget Ministry’s report submitted to Lee Han-gu, a lawmaker of the opposition Grand National Party.

Money granted for special activities is often referred to as an obscure budget due to its nature. While the Kim Dae-jung administration spent an average of 486.6 billion won a year, the Roh administration has spent an average of 732.8 billion won a year, up 51 percent.

Money for special activities is spent to carry out special duties or investigations. However, the escalation of the obscure budget, which should be used only for limited cases, casts doubts as the money can be used without reporting how it has been spent. Although we have hardly heard of Cheong Wa Dae healing the wounds of the heartbroken public or the Defense Ministry and the National Police Agency gaining trust among the people by strengthening the national and public security, their special wallet has become fatter.

The chief expert advisor of the Assembly’s Special Committee on Budget and Accounts has pointed out numerous loopholes in the next year’s budget. The chief advisor criticized the Education Ministry for requesting a budget of 45 billion won to expand its after-school education projects for low-income families, saying the efficiency of the budget is doubtful since the review of the test-run projects has not finished. The chief advisor also pointed out that the 150.5 billion won budget requested by the “Compensation Project for Bereaved Families of Koreans Conscripted against Their Will during the Japanese Rule” is inappropriate since its relevant bills have not yet passed the Assembly. Moreover, he pointed out that a budget of 18.0 billion won requested for building living quarters for North Korean workers working in the Gaesong Industrial Complex is improper since the lease of the land within the Gaesong Industrial Complex has been suspended.

The Roh administration, which has increased the number of the public servants by 40,000 over the past four years, is even spending reserve budget money to pay increased labor expenses. As a result, a growing number of the public are complaining that the government seems to be thinking tax payers’ money is “blind money.”

The Grand National Party has pledged to reduce budgets thoroughly in nine areas including the government achievement promotions for elections, as well as obscure budget items like money for special activities when it reviews next year’s budget. If lawmakers fail to correct the situation amid the worsening moral hazard of the government, they will be the culprits of wasting taxpayers’ money.