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Parties Agree on Forming Parliamentary Committees

Posted August. 20, 2008 07:32,   


The ruling and opposition parties agreed yesterday to form standing parliamentary committees, ending a prolonged standoff of 81 days since the inauguration of the 18th National Assembly.

Floor leaders of three negotiating groups met at the National Assembly and reached a consensus on the revision of a domestic livestock epidemic law, which had been a stumbling block to the formation of parliament.

After wrapping up their talks, rival parties held a plenary session to pass a revised parliamentary law on the agreed-on names of standing committees and the number of members.

Parliamentary confrontation is likely to continue, however, because ruling and opposition parties remain at odds over the confirmation hearing for Kim Hwang-shik, the new head of the Board of Audit and Inspection, and ratification of the free trade agreement with the United States.

Yesterday’s compromise came mainly due to concessions made by both the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party.

Both parties agreed to add a new clause saying “The existing negotiation results on beef imports shall be governed by the revised livestock law” to a supplementary provision of the law, accepting the results of U.S. beef import resumption talks in April and supplementary negotiations in June.

They also agreed on parliamentary control over the resumption of beef imports from a country where mad cow disease has broken out by specifying that “when mad cow disease arises in a country, an import ban will be placed on beef from cattle older than 30 months for five years from the country." When lifting the ban, the government must earn parliamentary consent.

In addition, the parties agreed to urge the government to renegotiate beef import terms with Washington after the United States agrees to export its beef to neighboring countries such as Japan and Taiwan under more stringent terms than Korea`s.

After undergoing deliberation by a special committee on the revision of the domestic livestock epidemic law, the revised law is expected to pass parliament Tuesday.

The confirmation hearings for the chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection and new chief justice will be held early next month. Their appointments will be endorsed at a plenary session of the National Assembly Sept. 5.

The three ministers who were appointed without confirmation hearings will undergo personnel verification sessions under standing committees right after the formation of parliament.

The National Assembly will also choose chairmen of standing and special committees Tuesday.