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[Editorial] Success of Super Province Project

Posted January. 28, 2008 22:21,   


The so-called “5+2 Super Province Initiative (SPI),” which the presidential transition team announced yesterday, deserves to be highly appraised since it aims to break the framework of the existing administrative districts and to rezone districts in accordance to actual economic activities.

The plan calls for the establishment of five super economic zones and two special districts to discover and promote growth engines that suit to the characteristics of each region and to add infrastructure to strengthen competitiveness of local regions. The goal of the cross-region combination is appealing as it can help avoid redundant projects and improve the efficiency of the budget execution.

However, it is questionable whether the new government will be able to achieve its objective sufficiently, while leaving the existing local administrative system, which consists of one special metropolitan city, six metropolitan cities and nine provinces.

The idea of the new administration’s super economic zones originated from the awareness that the existing system, under which each of the 16 provinces and large cities is divided into small cities and counties, is not sufficiently meeting the administrative demands and the economic activities of local residents.

Therefore, the starting point for the rezoning should be the local administrative system that was established during the Japanese colonial rule when transportation and communication were poor.

The Roh Moo-hyun administration’s balanced regional development plan pushed the relocation of the central government’s financial and human resources, and facilities to certain regions.

The regional specialization policies were carried out by each city or county. Regional projects have often been redundant and their sizes have been too small to calculate their economic benefits.

If an industry park were to be established on two administrative districts, they would start a relentless dispute. There are countless projects that can be better performed by the combined economic zones. The new administrative system will also be able to reduce the number of redundant projects, as seen by Seoul, Gangwon Province, North Chungcheong Province and Daejeon, which rushed to adopt the bio-industry as their strategic project one after another.

However, there are many issues to address. First of all, the nature of the headquarters of the super economic zones, which will exclusively handle those projects, is ambiguous and it is also not clear how to recruit their employees.

Unlike the original intent of introducing a “one stop service,” through deregulation, it may only end up adding another administrative procedure and create the rulers of the local governments. It may also incur a great deal of conflicts and cost during the process of adjusting to the new system.

The super province plan is worth trying, given that it can help the metropolitan area and local regions to achieve growth simultaneously by strategically utilizing limited resources. However, without a fundamental revision of the existing administrative system, the plan may only result in adding another regulatory body. Reorganizing the districts of the existing provinces and cities will be an extremely difficult but an essential task.