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[Editorial] 3,000 Unaccounted Regulations

Posted September. 18, 2007 03:17,   


The Regulatory Reform Committee (RRC), which operates directly under the president, has boasted that administrative regulations, including those set by law, decreased from 8,084, at the end of last year to the current number of 5,078.

Right before the current government came to power at the end of 2002, there were 7,724 regulations, meaning that regulations had increased by 100 every year. Now they are saying that they abolished roughly 3,000 regulations early this year. This translates into an astounding 37 percent regulation cut. But for the private companies, who are the consumers of government administration, regulations have not become any looser at all in reality. That is because of regulation reforms that have exaggerated numbers to their merit, and unregistered regulations that fly under the radar screen of government lists.

According to audits conducted by the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), the numbers were ballooned by manipulating statistics. For example, the regulation reform of the government would improve 15 regulations that were dealing exactly with the same issue, and then claim that it was an improvement of 62 regulations by adding up all the government ministries and organizations that were related to the regulation.

The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) reviewed administrative regulations at the request of the government and found some 3,000 regulations that were not accounted for by the RRC. The criteria for counting regulations might be different for the government and private companies. However, the sheer number, 3,000, just shows how wide the gap in perception is between the government and the private sector regarding what constitutes a regulation.

According to the FKI’s review, the government counted various regulations as single regulation and registered them as one. The government also registered only principal regulations and not minor detailed regulations. There are also cases where the government didn’t consider the same regulations that private companies did.

The quality of regulations is also important. Sometimes lawful regulations set standards that are impossible to meet by private companies. The government also listed things that it would not be able to verify if companies complied or not. It is just like the old saying that says that a stone cast into a pond without thinking can kill a frog.

Reforming regulations is only significant if it is conducted according to the necessities of the private sector. The true evaluation of whether the regulations were loosened should come from private companies, who are subject to regulations the most. In May 2006, the Office of the Prime Minister conducted a poll regarding the reforms, and only 34.1 percent of companies gave positive responses. Ballooning numbers might trick the minister and president, but cannot fool the companies suffering under them.