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Parties Agree on Rice Subsidy Probe

Posted October. 21, 2008 09:32,   


The National Assembly will launch an independent probe into government officials suspected of illegally receiving rice subsidies, officials said yesterday.

The decision came after a meeting among floor leaders of the ruling Grand National Party, the main opposition Democratic Party, and the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party. They agreed to discuss later details, including disclosing the names of the illegal recipients.

After the meeting, the ruling and opposition parties released a joint statement on their agreement.

A fierce war of words, however, is likely to erupt among the parties over setting the targets, the probe period, and summoning of witnesses.

Parties also agreed to cooperate in confirming emergency financial measures to tackle the dollar shortage and hold a meeting on the matter today.

The government will guarantee for three years foreign currency loans of domestic banks worth up to 100 billion U.S. dollars.

The government also said it launched a thorough reinvestigation into those who illegally applied for or received rice subsidies.

In a meeting with the chairmen of 35 agricultural fishery associations in the southern Seoul suburb of Gwacheon, Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Chang Tae-pyong said, “A thorough government investigation will find those who illegally pocketed the rice subsidies and retrieve the money.”

“Anyone who illegally received rice subsidies will be fined up to twice the amount of the money received.”

Chang’s ministry will also form task forces in 2,400 administrative districts nationwide to catch people who have illegally pocketed the subsidies since 2005, when the subsidy was introduced.

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