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Parties make election pledges without financial accountability

Parties make election pledges without financial accountability

Posted February. 22, 2024 07:57,   

Updated February. 22, 2024 07:57


With the upcoming general elections just a few months away, both the ruling and opposition parties are engaged in a competitive flurry of making extravagant campaign promises without concrete measures to secure the necessary funds. Out of the promises unveiled by the People Power Party, six out of 11, and the Democratic Party of Korea, six out of nine, lack a financial plan. This accounts for 60 percent of major campaign promises, and both parties remain silent on how they intend to secure the required funds. The proposed budget for the promises that do suggest a financial figure amounts to at least 143 trillion won. Yet, the politicians seem to act recklessly, neglecting the feasibility of these promises.

The People Power Party has not disclosed the budgetary size for promises such as providing health insurance benefits for nursing expenses and offering free daily lunches to senior citizens’ community centers. Without clarity on the required funds, there is no concrete plan for securing the necessary resources. The Democratic Party is no exception. While indicating a need for 80 trillion won to move the urban railway underground and 28 trillion won for budgetary assistance to address the low birth rate, no specific methods for securing these funds have been suggested. Both the ruling and opposition parties are resorting to empty assurances, stating, “We will keep our promises” and “Money will be secured somehow.”

Despite appearing well-intentioned, campaign policies lacking concrete plans are proliferating, resembling an escalation in betting money by gamblers. It seems that when one party presents a campaign pledge, the other promptly responds with a similar, even more costly pledge. For example, when the People Power Party pledged to bury the railways dividing neighborhoods underground, the Democratic Party responded by promising to bury the entire ground railway underground the next day. Similarly, when the Democratic Party pledged to provide free weekday lunches at senior citizens’ community centers, the People Power Party increased the stakes by promising free lunches seven days a week.

Some campaign pledges are not entirely new. They have been proposed in the last presidential or general election. The ruling party’s promises, including providing health insurance benefits for nursing fees and burying railways underground, were also campaign promises of President Yoon Suk Yeol. Likewise, the Democratic Party’s promises, such as providing health insurance benefits for nursing fees in nursing hospitals, increasing the monthly salary of soldiers serving mandatory military duty, and supporting local colleges, were pledges from the last presidential election. However, both parties have failed to present a practical method for securing the necessary funds. It is irresponsible for both parties to recycle the same old promises that have aged two years without significant changes or preparations.

Last year witnessed an unprecedented tax revenue deficit of 56 trillion won, and this year’s tax revenue is expected to be 6 trillion won less than the government’s prediction. The state’s finances are dwindling, and it is time to tighten the belt. Despite this, politicians have proposed few measures to prepare a substantial sum of money to fulfill campaign pledges. Promises made solely for the sake of garnering votes will either become a debt burden on the Korean people or, at best, offer false hope.