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[Editorial] Soaring Number of Public Officials

Posted September. 05, 2007 03:03,   


The government increased the number of public officials to 373 in nine of its central ministries at yesterday’s cabinet meeting. As such an increase takes place every Tuesday when the meeting takes place, Tuesday has become “a day of increasing the number of public officials.” This year alone, the government raised the number to around 13,500, and to a total of 58,000 during Roh’s tenure of 4.5 years. He said the number would rise up to 1,000 more by his tenure’s end.

With a single public official increase, labor costs of tens of millions of won are required per year. Labor costs that used to be 16.8 trillion won in 2003 have grown to 21.8 trillion won: an increase of five trillion won. This cost covers not only office and salary expenses, but also welfare benefits and pension benefits. Due to the shortage of money for public official wages, 21.7 billion and 47 billion were earmarked from other budgets in 2006 and 2005, respectively. All this money comes from the national tax reserve. When taxpayers strive to live on meager paychecks, they need to tighten their belts even more to pay for extra public officials.

In order for the government to provide quality services for the people’s livelihoods and welfare, the government said it is inevitable to increase the number of public servants. How nonsensical! Does this increase of public officials contribute to the quality of the public service? Advanced countries make tireless efforts to reduce their numbers of public officials without exception.

It is the mechanism of a bureaucratic society that needlessly divides a portion of work to be handled by a single person for two, and imposes regulations here and there because public officials are required to do “something” for their paychecks. Instead of guaranteeing comfort for the people, it inconveniences them even more with needless intervention. In order to strengthen the sanctions on reporting government-related issues, it increased the number of the public servants in the Government Information Agency by 35, and the number of protection personnel in government buildings by 14 in the name of the so-called “Measures to Advance the Reporting System” that draws a curtain between the people and public servants.

Jeon Yun-churl, chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), recently said, “To prevent excessive welfare that impedes national competitiveness, welfare policies need to be sophisticatedly managed, and government functions that do not meet global standards must be radically streamlined and realigned.” It is regrettable that the media, which is supposed to conduct fact-finding and report to the public, is about to have its eyes and ears disabled due to government interference. Does it mean that what the government does is supposed to be hidden?