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Bill on New Administraive City Stuck in Limbo

Posted July. 28, 2009 08:23,   


The National Assembly has failed to enact the Sejong Special Autonomous City Act in its extra parliamentary session that ended last week. This is likely to delay the launch of Sejong Special City, a multi-purpose city geared for state administration, that has been scheduled for July 1 next year.

Even if the act is approved in the regular parliamentary session in September, some say the city’s opening must be postponed due to a tight preparation schedule. A further delay is possible if the dispute between the ruling and opposition parties intensifies over the disputed passing of media reform bills.

The ruling Grand National Party and the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party sped up efforts to get the act approved in the last extra parliamentary session because of the heavy work required even after the bill was passed. The government said the launch of Sejong City will take up to 16 to 17 months after the effectuation of the city act.

Above all, the drafting of executive ordinances specifying details in the act will take at least three months. Afterwards, a decision is needed on which national administrative affairs will be delegated to the city.

The decision will be made by the Sejong City Support Committee under the Prime Minister’s Office. A review of more than 5,300 items for national administration will take an estimated four to five months. Apart from the city act, other laws on the city under the umbrella of other government agencies should be revised as well.

The drafting of a revision bill to a related act usually takes about three months, and deliberation, approval and announcement at the parliamentary standing committees take an additional five months. Even if the city act is approved in the September regular session, launching the city in July next year will prove impossible.

For this reason, the National Assembly is considering drastically reducing the period for the committee’s review of administrative affairs to be delegated to the city. Parliament is also seeking to approve revisions to laws related to the city under the umbrella of ministries in a package. It wants to specify bills in bylaws of the city act to reduce the time required for approval to six to 10 months.

No legal grounds require the launch of the city July 1 next year. The city act must specify the day of effectuation but the bill has yet to clear the National Assembly. However, July 1 is the de facto tentative deadline for Sejong City’s launch after the government designated the date in a pre-announcement for the enactment of the law in May 2007.

If Sejong City falls behind schedule, the first problem will emerge with the local elections in June next year. If the city is to be launched seamlessly, its mayor and council members must be elected in the local elections a month earlier.

If the launch is delayed, areas set to be incorporated into the new city, including Yeongi and Gongju in South Chungcheong Province and Cheongwon in North Chungcheong Province, must elect their mayors and council members in the local elections next year. Confusion will erupt in the election of mayors and council members not only in Sejong City but also in neighboring cities and counties.

With Cheongwon opposed to its absorption into Sejong City, conflict could further escalate if candidates for Cheongwon mayor pledge to oppose the incorporation. If the city’s launch is delayed, residents in areas set for incorporation into Sejong City will suffer growing inconvenience as well.

Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Shim Dae-pyung told reporters yesterday, “Residents in Yeongi County eagerly wait to move into homes in Sejong City, moving from one rental home to another,” adding, “The area designated for Sejong City remains excluded from public administration and service.”