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Controversy Brews Over Supplementary Budget

Posted July. 25, 2008 08:53,   


The government reportedly plans to spend 1.043 trillion won out of 4.9 trillion won of revised supplementary budget drafted last month to shorten the construction period for roads, railways and subways.

However, the State Financial Act strictly limits the rational for revised supplementary budget to three cases for the prevention of treasury from being wasted: recovery or restoration from war or large-scale disasters; major changes including massive unemployment and economic recession; and new or increased state-spending in accordance with laws.

The supplementary budget to be used for shortening roads, railways or subway construction reaches 1.043 trillion won, including 105 billion won for Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit, 260 billion won for general and metropolitan railroads, and 678 billion won for road construction and support.

The government allocated 20 billion won in supplementary budget to expedite construction work for Line 3 of the Busan subway, the construction of which was originally scheduled to be completed by 2010 but delayed five months, after cultural assets were excavated there.

The double track lines of Seoul-Chuncheon, in which the government injected 30 billion won, was originally scheduled for 1997 through 2003, but the construction work began only in 1999. Moreover, due to financing difficulties, the estimated time for completion is postponed to later than 2009. The Ministry of Land, Transport and Marine Affairs expects that the operation can be started in 2010 if it allocates 30 billion won in supplementary budget and inject some additional budget afterwards. However, some say that the project is not urgent enough to require supplementary budget.

A Land Ministry official said, “All construction work, including a subway project, can be shortened in line with an increase in budget. If new subway lines begin operation earlier, it will help ordinary citizens suffering from high oil prices.”

However, Grand National Party Rep. Lee Hahn-koo said, “This year’s supplementary budget does not meet the requirements of the State Finance Act. Even if you stretch the meaning of “economic recession” as a rational for supplementary budget, it is not right to use the money for SOC building, including road and railway construction. It is proven that the effort to create jobs and improve the people’s livelihoods through SOC investment is not effective.”

The supplementary budget bill was approved by the Cabinet council on June 17 and will undergo deliberation after a standing committee is formed in the 18th National Assembly.