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Finance Officials Frequently Appearing Before Parliament

Finance Officials Frequently Appearing Before Parliament

Posted December. 04, 2008 07:15,   


Strategy and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo has appeared at the National Assembly regularly for half the period of the regular parliamentary session since September, when the U.S.-led financial crisis broke out.

Financial Services Commission Chairman Jun Kwang-woo has been at parliament for 15 days over the same period.

The National Assembly’s standing committee said yesterday that Kang attended the Assembly 26 out of 58 working days from Sept. 1 through Nov. 21, when a hearing on the 2009 budget plan ended.

Over the period, the government was busy presenting a raft of measures, including state guarantees for domestic banks` foreign debts and the agreement on a currency swap deal with the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, to protect the economy from the fallout of the U.S. financial crisis that began with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

Kang attended the Assembly for deliberations on this year’s budget accounts, including those on the supplementary budget and the 2009 budget bill; standing committee hearings on pending issues; the parliamentary audit of the government; and the parliament interpellation session. He also attended a Nov. 13 meeting of a parliamentary fact-finding committee on his alleged influence over the Constitutional Court on the ruling of the comprehensive real estate tax.

Kang failed to attend the annual meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers Nov. 7 in Brazil due to the parliamentary interpellation session. The National Assembly spurned Kang’s request to join the meeting.

Financial Services Commission Chairman Jun appeared at the plenary sessions of both the standing committee and the National Assembly.

More than 50 high-ranking officials from the ministry and the financial watchdog stayed at the parliamentary strategy and finance committee session for six hours Oct. 28 due to wrangling over the provision of 100 billion dollars in debt guarantees to domestic banks.

When meetings of parliamentary committees on foreign affairs, trade and unification and budget and accounts were convened, the two bodies were bombarded with questions from morning until late into the night. Sometimes, they had to attend one committee meeting in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Their attendance at parliament effectively halted operations at the two government agencies since they were accompanied by more than 30 director-level officials.

Questions posed to the two in parliament were mostly politically motivated, according to an analysis of parliamentary minutes conducted by The Dong-A Ilbo. Opposition lawmakers chastised Kang more than 50 times over foreign exchange policies.

“Parliament should check the administration but it’s waste of national energy for public officials to frequently attend parliament at a time when the nation is in crisis,” said an official of the Strategy and Finance Ministry.