[EDITORIALS]Just pass the budget bill!

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[EDITORIALS]Just pass the budget bill!

The National Assembly failed to vote on the budget bill. The ruling and opposition parties missed the legal deadline to pass the bill on Dec. 2 and barely reached common ground on the total budget for next year at the special parliamentary committee on budget and accounts on Friday. Still, the plenary session ended fruitlessly. Chung Sey-kyun, a lawmaker in the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, belatedly started a new debate by criticizing the move to lower corporate taxes, after which the opposition Grand National Party lawmakers walked out of the meeting.

Both the ruling and opposition parties have been criticized for careless deliberation of the budget bill while paying more attention to the spending in their districts. Now the two parties are rushing to blame each other. It is hard for the people to tell who is worse. A ruling party lawmaker, who holds greater responsibility for the bill, criticized the corporate tax cuts which were agreed on after much difficulty, calling it a vote-buying tactic. Why did he reopen that question after a compromise had already been reached?

The opposition Grand National Party, whose lawmakers walked out from the session en masse after Mr. Chung's criticism, is no better. The party reacted too emotionally, unbefitting the largest party in the Assembly.

The government is the immediate victim of the Assembly breakdown, and the people will also suffer. Government spending will be delayed during the worst economic situation since the foreign exchange crisis, and the importance of the government spending is more significant now than ever. Korea grew by 1.8 percent in the third quarter and government spending triggered more than half that growth. The economy has just passed or is passing its nadir, and now is a crucial time to set next year's budget in order to expedite a recovery. After the budget bill is passed, it will still take time to finalize an implementation plan and allocate the money. The clock is ticking, and the ruling and opposition parties have no time for an emotional spat that leaves national finances adrift. The ruling and opposition parties should pass the budget bill as soon as possible. That is the only way to relieve the disappointment of the Korean people.
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