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Parties unite over need for probe into Blue House

Jan 08,2019
In a rare show of unity, parties from both ends of the political spectrum are stressing the need to kick off a probe into the allegations raised by Shin Jae-min, the Finance Ministry’s ex-bureaucrat who accused the Moon Jae-in administration of misconduct last month.

The parties are keen to get to the bottom of Shin’s accusation that the Moon administration forced the Finance Ministry in late 2017 to issue 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) of deficit-covering bonds despite objection from the ministry, which feared an increase to the national debt.

Shin claims the decision was aimed at making the former right-leaning Park Geun-hye administration look inept in fiscal governance. The Finance Ministry denied that and asked prosecutors to investigate the 32-year-old for leaking confidential information on YouTube about his time in the public service.

Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the minor right-wing Bareunmirae Party, said Monday that the allegation about deficit-covering bonds was a “severe issue” in terms of governance and underscored that a parliamentary probe or hearing should be held to summon witnesses by legal force and hold them criminally accountable in case they commit perjury.

“The essence of this case is whether the Blue House forced the Ministry of Economy and Finance to make the former government’s debt-to-GDP ratio look high,” said Sohn, reiterating Shin’s claim. “It’s no ordinary issue that the Blue House tried to increase national debt and make the former government responsible for it when tax revenues were actually thriving.”

Sohn blamed the Moon administration for making a “bad political judgement” and said the domestic economy is now struggling due to it.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s floor leader, Rep. Na Kyung-won, accused the Blue House of trying to cover up the truth by framing Shin as a con man on Monday. Na said the Finance Ministry should remove its request that the prosecution indict its former employee for leaking confidential information.

Last Friday, Na said the parliamentary Strategy and Finance Committee and the National Policy Committee should convene meetings on the deficit-covering bond issue.

The minor liberal Party for Democracy and Peace said on the same day that it would establish a committee within the party to discover the truth about Shin’s accusations and come up with ways to protect whistle-blowers.

The progressive Justice Party said Saturday that the National Assembly has a “definite role” to investigate what’s right and wrong in Shin’s assertions and that, if necessary, a Strategy and Finance Committee meeting should be held to ask Finance Ministry officials about the issue.

Other accusations Shin brought up late last month were that the Blue House tried to change the chief executive of Korea Tobacco & Ginseng (KT&G) and local newspaper Seoul Shinmun, despite the fact they are both private companies.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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