[EDITORIALS]Who needs a budget?

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[EDITORIALS]Who needs a budget?

Things are building up to a slapdash review of the government budget for next year. The National Assembly is about to wrap up its regular session, having come not even close to forming a subcommittee of the budget committee to review the proposed budget figures in detail. Just because of that problem, this late in the year, it is not difficult to imagine what the congressional review of the budget will turn out to be.

Having wasted the time they were given in political squabbles, the ruling and opposition parties agreed to call a two-week extraordinary session to review the budget. Their vow to complete the process by Dec. 20 is no doubt a device to shield themselves from criticism. But what is more serious is whether or not they can complete a review of 113 trillion won ($89 billion) in spending proposals. Experts said it would take at least 15 days - the entire extra session - and it is also a near certainty that they will waste more time arguing about whether to increase or decrease the overall spending.

What angers ordinary folks is that the shortage of time developed because of political bickering over the retirement age for teachers and the impeachment of the prosecutor general. The composition of the budget subcommittee was also a political problem. The Grand National Party is largely responsible.

It appears that about every other time an opposition party member opens his mouth, it is about its solemn responsibility as the majority party, but its conduct of late has been anything but responsible. Whatever the disagreement about the establishment of the budget subcommittee was, the GNP wasted 10 days on internal strife. The party's budget committee members said its leadership will eventually relinquish control of the budget review to the ruling party to avoid giving the impression that, with a majority, it has turned into a stingy bully.

As the blame gradually piles on the GNP, the governing Millennium Democratic Party is said to be feeling comfortable with the situation. Its position is that the proposal will pass in some form sooner or later. When the situation has come to this, it is not difficult to imagine that the attention given to the proposal will be less than wholehearted. It would appear that lawmakers' determination that the budget review should be more thorough than ever will again prove to be only lip service.
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