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Bickering Mars Final Day of Regular Parliamentary Session

Bickering Mars Final Day of Regular Parliamentary Session

Posted December. 10, 2008 05:28,   


The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Committee of the National Assembly last week planned to bring up a bill on merging Korea National Housing Corp. and Korea Land Corp, an important test of the government’s reform plan.

Bickering between the ruling and opposition parties, however, resulted in the bill on the merger failing to be presented to the standing committee yesterday, the end of the regular parliamentary session.

The National Assembly finished its 100-day annual regular session. Lawmakers promised to make all-out efforts to revive the economy but failed to generate visible results.

At the session, only 13.7 percent of pending bills were handled. Hong Joon-pyo, floor leader of the ruling Grand National Party, said Nov. 11, “If the government does not suggest bills swiftly, we’ll not handle them in the regular session.”

Facing pressure from Hong, ministries rushed to suggest bills, but only 66 out of 482 suggested by the government were handled in the regular session.

The 18th National Assembly proclaimed itself an “economy parliament” but parliamentary committees on national policy, finance and land, all of which mainly deal with economic issues, handled less than 10 percent of pending bills. The policy committee handled 13 out of 153 bills (8.5 percent), that of finance 23 of 255 (nine percent), and that of land 10 of 261 (3.8 percent).

Worse the parliamentary committee on education dealt with three of 126 bills (2.4 percent); that of culture three of 118 (2.5 percent); and that of public administration 17 of 299 (5.7 percent).

Instead the ruling and opposition parties had engaged in political bickering until Tuesday, the last day of the regular session.

Hong said, “The opposition party should withdraw its unreasonable demands and interference.”

Main opposition Democratic Party leader Chung Sye-kyun hit back by saying, “We have a different view on the budget plan and anti-democratic laws.”

Leaders of the two rival parties failed to show their leadership due to the complicated parliamentary structure. The ruling Grand National Party has a majority of 172 seats but has failed to get along with the main opposition party since the 18th National Assembly began.

The ruling party was busy fighting the opposition instead of handling suggested bills. The Democratic Party also failed to abide by the parliamentary principles of conversation and compromise.

The 18th National Assembly had also proclaimed itself a tool of the people. It now faces harsh criticism since it began 81 days later than scheduled and must rush to inspect government offices and examine public spending of last year and the budget for next year.

Won Hye-young, floor leader of the Democratic Party, expressed his will to improve the process of auditing government spending and the budget.

“The Special Committee on Budget and Accounts will become a standing committee. Through this, lawmakers can deal with the government’s budget and spending plans throughout the year instead of handling them over the last few weeks,” he said.