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[Editorial] Negligent Lawmakers

Posted December. 04, 2006 06:44,   

Updated January. 04, 2018 15:38


The National Assembly has violated the constitution once again. Article 54 in the constitution stipulates that the National Assembly shall decide upon the national budget bill thirty days prior to the beginning of a fiscal year. This means that the body should have completed its deliberations last Saturday at the latest. The legislative body, however, failed to do so and belatedly launched a review beginning today until December 14 after having held a Special Committee on Budget and Accounts meeting as part of the pre-plenary session procedure.

The delay has become an annual routine since 1998 except for 2002, the year of the presidential election, not because of increased bipartisan attention, but because of self-serving political bickering. This time around, the wrangling is even more intense as conflicts escalate over the nomination of a constitution court chief justice between the ruling and opposition parties and over political regrouping efforts between Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling Uri Party over, while excessive interests in the next presidential candidate by the opposition Grand National Party are going on.

Government budget proposals tend to have many pork barrel spending stipulations in an election year. They should have spent more time on budget review than other years to find out such political giveaways. The budget plan submitted by the government set a total of 238 trillion won aside for next year, including 158 trillion won for general accounting. With regard to this, the Uri Party wants to cut unnecessary spending, without changing the total budget by directing the reduced amount to investment toward social overhead capital.

In contrast, the GNP expressed its will to slash more than 12 trillion won, including 5.3 trillion won, of what it considers wasteful welfare and engagement programs toward North Korea, and 1.7 trillion won earmarked for projects that await legal passage. However, neither plan will work if each party procrastinates and neglects their duty. The GNP, which had put forward the goal of a nine trillion won reduction, ended up boycotting the plenary session and let control slip from its hands to government and the Uri Party.

It will be lamentable if business as usual remains unchanged. Lawmakers should not blame the government for inappropriate execution after they failed to address wasteful pork-barrel spending. They must not impose a heavier burden on the Korean public, who are already suffering an economic slump, higher public utility charges, tax increases, and interest hikes.