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[Opinion] Budgetary Waste

Posted January. 09, 2007 03:01,   


Most former British colonies gained independence after World War II, but the number of the Colonial Office employees increased from 372 in 1935 to 1,661 in 1954. This is a result of the workers recklessly making new tasks. Northcote Parkinson, the prestigious British economist who observed this, explained, “The fact is that the number of the officials increases independent of the quantity of the work because an organization has to be bigger in order for the officials to be promoted.” This is the gist of “Parkinson’s Law.”

“Expenses rise to meet income,” and “A budget decision is not made until a deadline approaches for bigger amounts” are Parkinson’s Laws Number Two and Three. Each of them points out inefficiency of public organizations but with statistical verification of its own. This is no exception in Korea, especially with the increase of public officials in central government agencies up to 25,000 with the start of this administration. The number is planned to be additionally increased by over 3,000 this year. Nevertheless, the number of the staff each agency requests for an increase by 2010 is a total of 120,000.

The Ministry of Planning and Budget came up with a booklet on budget waste. The Labor Ministry wasted the managerial cost worth 350 million won by leaving a building worth 16 billion won for two years. It is a tax wasting example by not having a thorough plan in advance on building usage. The Gwangnaru district of Hangang Riverside Park has a low altitude so it is subsidized two to three times a year, but the head office of the park had tennis courts worth over 200 million won constructed there. The office is currently reviewing to convert the courts into basketball courts, having realized the impossibility of maintaining the tennis courts. There are many more nonsensical stories but they would just be a tip of the iceberg.

Since the launch of the Roh administration, 200 public officials “to specialize in innovation” have been newly appointed. The government seems to be confused with the increase of the number of the related employees with the “innovation records,” crying out for innovation. Even when moral hazard is rampant where the “big government” is wasting budgets not contributing to the livelihood of the public, President Roh is busy praising public officials all of a sudden.

The administration and the National Assembly expanded the deficit financing by taxing more and printing government bonds more in devising this year’s budget. Pity on the taxpayers who, again, are destined to tighten their belts!

Heo Seung-ho, Editorial Writer, tigera@donga.com