Go to contents

National Assembly’s Audit Methods Change after “Treat Scandal”

National Assembly’s Audit Methods Change after “Treat Scandal”

Posted October. 30, 2007 03:28,   


Due to the aftermath of lawmakers enjoying a hearty dinner in Daejeon, lawmakers are now avoiding treats of dinner or drinks, which used to be regularly provided by government agencies or related organizations that are targeted for audits.

Some lawmakers are cautious, saying, “Just in case there is rumor about me, I should take a lunch box with me when auditing.”

Some Standing Committee members have changed restaurants to ones that are cheaper, and some organizations to be audited have decided to switch auditing places from their organizations to the National Assembly building to save costs.

Change of auditing venues to reduce costs-

Seven organizations, including the Korea Culture & Content Agency (KOCCA), Korea Film Council, and Korea Movie Rating Board, which are subject to auditing by the National Assembly’s Culture and Tourism Committee, were criticized for wasting taxpayers’ money when it was allotting 42 million won for audit costs. But on October 29, they changed the venue for the audit from the Center for Culture and Content in the KOCCA building to the National Assembly building. By doing so, they can save costs on leasing the equipment needed for the audit, such as audio-visual equipment, microphones, faxes, limousines, buses, auditing tables, and chairs. The recently built Center for Culture and Content does not have equipment like audio-visual devices.

However, they decided not to change the costs for lunch and dinner for lawmakers and their aides, which were set at 20,000 won per person. This was allotted in case lawmakers and aides have meals separate from the audited organizations, or pay for meals from the National Assembly’s budget.

Cheaper restaurants-

A group of 12 lawmakers from the National Assembly’s Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee originally planned to have lunch on October 30 at a traditional Korean restaurant in Mokpo, but they changed the place to a cafeteria in the South Jeolla provincial office on October 28. They changed the menu from a traditional Korean meal worth 30,000 won per person to a simple meal worth 10,000 won per person.

An official of the provincial office said on October 29, “We changed restaurants because a National Assembly official suddenly called us, saying, ‘We’d better change the restaurant.’ We were going to pay for the total cost, but we went Dutch because the official said, ‘we will pay for what we ate.’”

Lawmakers from the Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee are planning to have dinner provided by Choi In-ki (Naju, Hwasun of S. Jeolla), a lawmaker of the committee. No one related to the S. Jeolla provincial office will join the dinner.

An official of Choi said, “Since the scandal, we are now very cautious about even simple, friendly meals.”

After completing an audit on South Gyeongsang Province, some of the lawmakers of the Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee changed restaurants for dinner from a galbi place, which they had previously reserved, to a chueotang place.

An official of S. Gyeongsang Province said, “We were planning to have a dinner worth more than 20,000 won per person, but after consulting with the committee, we changed the plan to have a meal worth 15,000 won per person at a chueotang restaurant.”

Paying for meals and accommodations from the National Assembly’s Budget-

On the same day, members from the Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee who were participating in an audit on North Gyeongsang Province, which was held simultaneously with S. Gyeongsang Province’s, paid 600,000 won from the National Assembly’s Budget for lunch they had at a Korean restaurant near Dongdaegu Station in Daegu.

The lawmakers who completed auditing in South Gyeongsang Province moved to Cheongju for auditing on North Chungcheong Province to be held on October 30 and stayed there for one night. They also paid for the accommodations from the National Assembly’s budget and are planning to come to Seoul without having dinner after finishing the audit.

Jeong Gab-yun, a Grand National Party’s lawmaker from the Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee, said, “When auditing in local provinces, accommodation fees should be paid from the budgets of the National Assembly allotted for the related committee. We should learn a lesson from the scandal and correct irregularities that organizations to be audited pay for meals and drinks.’

Avoiding meals-

After an audit on October 26 of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee on the Seoul High Court and 11 local courts, committee members had planned to have dinner at the restaurant on the second floor of the Seoul Central District Court, but they scattered without having a meal.

An official of the Seoul Central District Court said, “I am aware that due to the scandals, the Science, Technology, Information & Telecommunications Committee, and Legislation & Judiciary Committee members didn’t have dinner.”

Last year, Legislation & Judiciary Committee members had dinner with presidents of the court at the restaurant of the court.

“Never have drinks”-

Ahn Sang-su, the floor leader of the GNP, said on October 29 at a general assembly of GNP lawmakers, “Even such regular practices cannot be justified because public standards have been heightened.” He asked lawmakers to have meals only at office buildings and never have drinks.

Choi Cheol-guk from the United New Democratic Party and Lee Myeong-gyu from the GNP, members of the Commerce, Industry & Energy Committee, agreed that they would not have meals with members from organizations to be audited and that aides of lawmakers will have meals at the National Assembly’s cafeteria.

Rep. Choi said, “Even though such treats have been regular practices, if the public sees there is room for improvement, we should do what they say.”

Aftershocks from the Scandal of the Science, Technology, Information & Telecommunications Committee-

On October 29, at an audit of the Science, Technology, Information & Telecommunications Committee on the National Information Society Agency, rancor over the “treat scandal” was still evident.

The audit had been scheduled at the National Information Society Agency, but the venue was changed to the National Assembly.

Lim In-bae, a GNP’s lawmaker and the head of the committee, whose membership to the GNP had been suspended for six months, did not attend. Also, Kim Tae-hwan, an organizer of the GNP, who was present at the drinking place, expressed his resolution to resign. Shin Sang-jin took his role as an organizer.

Shim Jae-yeop, a GNP lawmaker, claimed that “Kim Tae-hong, the head of the committee and UNDP lawmaker, and other lawmakers of the UNDP were receiving treats at the bar. Also, the minister and vice minister of Health and Welfare were present.” He insisted, “The UNDP should punish Kim like the GNP did.”

In response to the scandal, Byeon Jae-il of the UNDP said, “There have not been such irregularities at the Science, Technology, Information & Telecommunications Committee since the 17th National Assembly.”