[FORUM]Danger, committee meeting ahead

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[FORUM]Danger, committee meeting ahead

"Does the government know why the economic sector is rebellious?" This question sounds like something that a famous Korean comedian might ask at the end of a show. It's also likely the comic would answer, nonsensically and using a rhyme, this way: "Does the government know the economic sector is Sibelius?"

When the government has to answer questions, it too often first thinks about those questions, then searches for a counterplan as well as for the right answers.

The reason the economic sector strongly opposes the government's plans to start the five-day workweek, as well as investigate illegal insider trading, cannot be easily thought of as a simple collective movement by the sector that is trying for a free ride on the lame duck phenomenon at the end of an administration. The government must be criticized for forcefully pushing forward with a plan that is different from the promise it has made in the beginning. Therefore, the government should reflect on any changes to be made in the working attitudes and planning policies.

Government officials must be disparaged for exploiting and pressuring the private sector via expedient means in order to satisfy goals and profits. Therefore, it is obvious that the private sector is challenging and rebelling against the government. But not only does such defiance exist in the private business sector but it can also be found in various governmental committees.

By looking at the crippled operation of those committees, the government's attitude, which goes against time, is clear. For the committees to properly operate they should be guaranteed expertise and independence. If these two characteristics are not secured, there is no reason for a committee to exist. Rather, it would be better if government officials handled the work. In many cases, however, in order to dodge responsibility and ostentation, a committee is set up, and usually the government tries to take over the committee and use it as a cover. Such government exploitation can be even found in the Public Fund Oversight Committee, the Korean Trade Commission, the Monetary Policy Committee.

Some people might argue that the Public Fund Oversight Committee was introduced for the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs to avoid special investigation from the opposition party. On the contrary, some people say that although the Korean Trade Commission is important in the operations of this country's imports and exports, the commission is currently not utilized to its fullest. The reason is that the commission is a subordinate of the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Energy, and even the chairman of the commission can only participate part-time.

The government reportedly strengthened the Monetary Policy Committee, which operates under the Bank of Korea, by making its members full-time workers, in order to appease people who opposed the shift of the central bank's audit power to the Financial Supervisory Commission. But still the committee has been criticized that it is under the influence of the government. Friction continues to hover over the committee, which began in a whirl of major problems. Meanwhile, the government tries to keep the committee under its influence using expedient means.

According to law, the Public Fund Oversight Committee consists of members from the government and the civilian work force. The civilian chairman of the committee is to be elected through a mutual vote by the civilian committee members.

However, recently the government abruptly appointed a chairman who resigned soon after due to strong protests by civilian members.

The chairman of the Korean Trade Commission resigned as the government started to draw up a counterplan regarding the garlic dispute with China while ignoring the commission.

It is time for the government to change. However, there is no need for major administrative reform. The government needs to throw away its bad habit of showing superiority over the private sector, and tend to business according to laws and principles. If the government continues to remain unchanged it will spark more criticism from the private sector, which could threaten the future of our economy.


The writer is the director of the JoongAng Ilbo Economic Research Institute.

by Ro Sung-tae

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