Assembly Probe of Funds Is Overdue

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Assembly Probe of Funds Is Overdue

The Public Fund Management Committee was officially kicked off on Monday. Despite the staggering amounts of public funds involved in restructuring, no office has had full oversight responsibility, and huge sums have been squandered. To date, 129 trillion won ($101 billion) has been provided, but the outcome of restructuring efforts is far from satisfactory.

The committee's obligations and responsibilities are enormous in that the efficient management of the money, including additional trillions of won to be provided, is directly related not only to the taxpayers' burden but also the success of financial and corporate reform, on which the Korean economy's very survival hinges. In particular, non-government committee members should find the best way to minimize the public burden and enhance efficiency. The committee must carefully review the restructuring of firms that have received funds and promote fairness and transparency in the whole process, from the decision to inject funds to post-delivery management, so the people's confidence is restored.

We urge the ruling party and the opposition to reopen a hearing on public funds, which fizzled out last month, as soon as possible. The public's wrath is mounting as evidence mounts that oversight of the money has been slipshod. Taxpayers' money was used like the personal funds of bank executives and company owners and more than 8 trillion won in losses are their responsibility. All past problems should be divulged both for accountability and to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated. Such a parliamentary hearing was a precondition for the approval of the second-round provision of public funds.

Even so, the ruling party and the opposition wasted the chance to hold such hearings after a row over insignificant issues such as how to interrogate witnesses. They show no signs of keeping their pledge to reopen hearings.

Although the Millennium Democratic Party has a lukewarm attitude toward the hearings, the Grand National Party cannot avoid blame; it has invited suspicions that it may have colluded with the MDP by its nit-picking. The two camps should set a hearing timetable and embark on a meaningful probe.
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