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[Editorial] Allowing Officials to Revive the Economy

Posted December. 11, 2008 05:35,   


The Board of Audit and Inspection will exempt public officials who inadvertently fail to follow due process or waste budget in the course of overcoming the economic crisis. This means exceptional exemption of cases such as the credit and guarantee of financial institutions; the approval of M&As related to corporate restructuring and the supervision of financial institutions; fiscal investment and finance; and budget execution for creating jobs and boosting consumption.

If the exemptions are applied to the supervision of bank loans by the Financial Supervisory Service, they can ease the credit crunch. Though bureaucracy will not disappear overnight, the measure will at least prevent the crisis from getting more serious due to officials’ reluctance to assume responsibility.

Though the restructuring of failing construction companies has been delayed for about two months, the Financial Services Commission and the Land, Transport and Marine Affairs Ministry have not budged. The public sector must be committed to overcoming the crisis by pondering the meaning of the exemption they have received.

In the 1960s and 70s, government officials who planned and implemented economic development plans would stay up all night for several days despite their low pay to work for Korea’s modernization. Such government-led economic development might be no longer possible, but officials today need to learn about their predecessors’ passion for the country and people.

Of course, they must have something to say, especially in the case of Byeon Yang-ho, a former director at the Finance and Economy Ministry. Byeon was investigated for more than two years because of the alleged fire sale of Korea Exchange Bank to a foreign fund. The incident was a critical point that made economy officials cynical and bureaucratic. Officials, however, have a duty and right to think hard about Korea’s impending issues and find and implement optimal alternatives. This is why they are given huge power and guaranteed status by law.

If the majority of officials care only about themselves, Korea’s future is not bright. The Board of Audit and Inspection must protect officials who have acted on their beliefs as well as uncovering corruption through rigorous inspection. It needs to consider offering incentives to public servants who sacrifice themselves despite the challenges they face.