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Unification Ministry Requests Extra Money for Inter-Korean Projects

Unification Ministry Requests Extra Money for Inter-Korean Projects

Posted October. 11, 2007 03:47,   


It was confirmed yesterday that the Unification Ministry asked the National Assembly to allocate 411.6 billion won as “reserve money” for inter-Korean cooperation, without disclosing specifics and only saying, “The amount is needed for inter-Korean projects discussed at the 2007 inter-Korean summit.”

The Unification, Diplomacy and Commerce Committee of the National Assembly is scheduled to convene a meeting today to deliberate the request. The administration’s demand for money for inter-Korean projects without specifying them is expected to be a controversial issue at the meeting.

According to the plan for management and spending of inter-Korean cooperation funds in 2008 that the Ministry submitted to the committee, the amount of money set aside for those purposes almost tripled from 142 billion won last year to 411.6 billion won this year.

The amount accounts for more than 30 percent of the 1.3398 trillion won in total inter-Korean cooperation funds that the ministry requested for next year. Moreover, it represents 45 percent of 909.6 billon won, the combined amount that the Ministry requested for all inter-Korean projects, including social and cultural exchanges, humanitarian assistance, and economic cooperation.

The ministry explained the reason for the budget increase, saying, “We need the money to prepare for unpredictable events, such as follow-up measures to the inter-Korean summit and the six-party talks.”

A committee member said, “It is an infringement of the National Assembly’s right to deliberate budgets when the government asks the National Assembly to approve more than 400 billion won in spending without knowing what the money will be spent on.”

Furthermore, some point out that the ministry requested the increase despite knowing that such money cannot be used for North Korean projects. Article 12 of the Inter-Korean Cooperation Funds Act and Article 9 of the Enforcement Ordinance stipulate: “Reserve funds shall be used for purchasing treasury bonds or public bonds, public funds, short-term deposits at financial institutions, and the purchase of securities.”

A Unification Ministry official said yesterday, “We had to submit the plan to the National Assembly by the end of September before the inter-Korean summit. So we decided to increase our reserves first because we didn’t know what the results of the summit would be. From now, we’ll come up with specific plans for the use of the funds and report the amount to be used for North Korea projects to the National Assembly.”

Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong said in a luncheon with senior journalists that day, “I believe the 1.3-trillion-won inter-Korean economic cooperation budget that the government plans will be enough for next year’s inter-Korean economic projects.”