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[Editorial] Money Wasted from Cheong Wa Dae to District Offices

[Editorial] Money Wasted from Cheong Wa Dae to District Offices

Posted June. 15, 2007 09:26,   


Next Generation Sports Talent (NEST), a foundation established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in January, has this year budgeted 600 million won for operating expenses alone. The foundation, comprising six members with backgrounds in the public service, particularly in the Ministry of Culture, is a money-making foundation for its members, where each of them spend 100 million won on personnel expenses, allowance for the attached post and operating expenses. Seongbuk district office of Seoul allotted 4.7 billion won to their employees to cover traveling expenses without proving any travel expense reports. Each of the 58 soon-to-be-retired public servants have secured 5 million won to cover expenses for training abroad; however, 36 of them have not left yet to go abroad. In the meantime, the public is shedding bitter tears under the burden of high taxes.

Money-wasting by the government, which squanders money from the national budget, is a widespread phenomenon ranging from district offices to ministries and Cheong Wa Dae. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation sent officials on overseas business trips over 1,600 times last year alone and received preliminary auditing by the Board of Audit and Inspection. Due to overlapping business trip schedules by Korean officials, the inspected organizations overseas were hindered in their daily business.

President Roh Moo-hyun aggravated the money-wasting phenomenon by promoting the nomination of his supporters. Kim Nam-soo who served as the auditor of public firms, with a salary of 120,000,000 won per annum, is a model example of wasting tax-payers money. Kim, who served as a special aide to Roh Moo-hyun during the 2002 presidential elections, was nominated as the secretary of Cheong Wa Dae. However, he stepped down after playing golf against the prohibition order which was imposed after Lee Hae-chan stepped down over golf scandal on March 1, 2006. After just four months, Cheong Wa Dae nominated Kim for the auditor position at Korean Electric Power Corporation. And only seven months after he took office, he launched a business trip arrangement project for the auditors of the public organizations. Kim left his post last month for unexplained reasons.

This year, every Korean citizen had to bear a 3.83 million won tax burden – an increase of 200,000 won compared to last year. Income tax, which is imposed on poor-earning salary-man, jumped 81% after the current administration took office. Even so, both the financial deficit and national debt have surged astronomically; more so than under any other administration in history. If everyone, from the president to lowest-paid member of society, would consider the great efforts being made by the public, this would reduce the current money-wasting phenomenon. While raising tax burdens in the name of promising to make Korea a welfare state, every official of the state organizations, ranging from Cheong Wa Dae to district offices, is only interested in protecting and enriching his/her own personal welfare.