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Special law to construct new tax-consuming airport is proposed

Special law to construct new tax-consuming airport is proposed

Posted November. 26, 2020 08:07,   

Updated November. 26, 2020 08:07


The Democratic Party of Korea jointly proposed on Wednesday a special law to construct a new airport on Gadeok Island under the leadership of Han Jeoung-ae, the head of the party’s policy committee. The special law conclusively states, even in its title, that a new airport in the southeastern region will be located on Gadeok Island. According to the newly proposed bill, the estimated budget of around 10 trillion won will be sourced from government funds and the new airport will be exempt from a preliminary feasibility study to examine its economics. The special law for a new airport in Gadeok Island, Busan jointly proposed on Friday by the Busan-based members of the ruling People Power Party also has almost the same clauses as the ruling party’s special law, such as exemption from a preliminary feasibility study. The National Assembly will examine the two special laws together and pass them early next year.

Preliminary feasibility studies were introduced under the Kim Dae-jung administration to reexamine large-scale national projects based on experts’ analysis of their utility versus resource input. Under the Moon Jae-in administration, about 88 trillion won-worth of projects were exempt from preliminary feasibility studies and the figure almost reached 100 trillion won including the new Gadeok Island airport. This far exceeds the Park Geun-hye administration’s 24 trillion won, as well as 60 trillion won of the Lee Myung-bak administration, which was highly criticized by the then-opposition party members who are currently in power. As exemptions are abused whenever politically necessary in the name of balanced regional development, it almost seems better to entirely abolish the preliminary feasibility study system.

“I hope that both the ruling and opposition parties quickly process the special laws regarding a new airport in Daegu and the transfer of Gwangju Airport,” said Lee Nak-yeon, the chairman of the ruling party, on Monday. These special laws will also include clauses of preliminary feasibility study exemptions and the government’s full provision of funds. Now, if other regions call for the construction of new airports in the name of fairness, it will be difficult to deny their requests. South Korea seems to be on its path to become a ‘republic of airports’ as politicians are willing to do anything to win votes.

It has been a long time since regional airports built to win elections have wasted tax, not only for hefty construction expenses but also after completion. As of August this year, five out of 14 regional airports had less than one percent of runway utilization rates and 70 percent of all airports are experiencing losses. The intention to promote local development and boost local economies by constructing airports is understandable, but national finance should be also taken into consideration.