Don't Let It Happen AgainThe ruling and opposition camps in the National Assembly have come to an agreement approving 40 trillion won ($33 billion) in additional public funds and related laws. The Grand National Party''s unconditional return to the floor of the legislature and its yielding on such disputed issues as who would chair the Special Investigative Committee provided the breakthrough that was required. This approval will allow the government to get on with the urgently needed injection of funds and restructuring of the financial sector.
We feel uneasy, however, about the fact that the National Assembly''s deliberations on this matter were carried out in such a slipshod fashion. First of all, the question of whether such a huge amount of money is needed was not looked into thoroughly enough. The administration and the ruling party, anxious to get approval quickly, asserted that any delay could lead to a dire situation, but the documentation they submitted to the Assembly was inadequate, merely stating how much money they deem is needed where. From the data provided, it is impossible to tell how the figures were arrived at and whether they are sufficient to revive financial institutions involved.
Minister of Finance and Economy Jin Nyum said, "I''ve already given explanations to the members of the Legislative Deliberation Subcommittee of the National Assembly''s Finance and Economy Committee and the contents of the explanations are classified as confidential," but opposition assemblymen objected, saying that his explanation was inadequate and left too many questions unanswered. When the government expects the people of Korea to bear the burden of no less that 40 trillion won in addition to the whopping 109 trillion already spent, it owes them a full explanation, with convincing accompanying data to back up its figures.
If there is some danger that a full disclosure might lead to confusion or unrest, as Mr. Jin seems to imply, at the very least the government should reveal enough of the basis for its calculations to prevent the sort of unrest that may result from keeping people in the dark, and such a disclosure is most certainly due to the elected representatives of the people. The government should also have presented a blueprint for exactly what sorts of changes in the finance sector we can expect to see as a result of the injection of additional funds, but this too was missing.
by Joseph W. Chung