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Nat`l Assembly to Open Session Every Month

Posted November. 08, 2008 09:16,   


The National Assembly is expected to transform itself into a “working parliament” by opening a session every month and extending the period of budget deliberation.

An advisory committee under the National Assembly speaker led by Kyungnam University professor Sim Ji-yeon will announce a parliamentary overhaul plan Sunday.

The proposed plan will include measures for improvement of a parliamentary session system for a standing National Assembly; beefing up of the effectiveness of the parliamentary audit of the government; improvement of the parliamentary interpellation session; and revving up of parliamentary and public hearings.

Under the National Assembly Law, a regular parliamentary session opens in September and extraordinary sessions convene in even months. Extra parliamentary sessions can convene at the request of the president, the National Assembly speaker, or more than a fourth of lawmakers.

If the plan is signed into law, the Assembly will convene on the first day of every month. This change is expected to eliminate the practice of taking hostage the opening of parliament for political interest.

The plan also calls for the National Assembly to strengthen its deliberation role.

With each parliamentary standing committee consisting of 29 lawmakers, each committee member has only five minutes to ask questions in a hearing, thus leading to superficial deliberation.

The overhaul plan is likely to address this drawback by setting up subcommittees. For instance, the National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification will be divided into the foreign affairs and trade subcommittee and the unification subcommittee.

In regular sessions, in-depth deliberation has been impossible due to a heavy schedule such as the parliamentary audit of the government and discussion of the government budget and bills. To tackle this problem, the advisory committee suggested a parliamentary audit for 20 days starting July 1 and review of budgets and bills at the regular session.

Public hearings will be merged with parliamentary hearings and hearings on personnel, investigations, policies and legal matters will be held whenever needed.

The proposal will be submitted by National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o to each party and discussed at the steering committee or the parliamentary special committee on political relations.

Joo Ho-young, vice spokesman of the ruling Grand National Party, said, “Standing parliamentary and subcommittees can burden the executive branch. Opposition parties might also exploit the changes by asking for the same number of subcommittee heads between the ruling and opposition parties.”

The main opposition Democratic Party’s vice spokesman Suh Gab-won said, “We will closely review the proposal, but if it is helpful in reforming parliament, we are ready to accept it.”