[EDITORIALS]Speedy compensationResidents of areas damaged by recent flooding are arguing among themselves over the designation of special disaster areas by the government's flood relief program. Some areas reportedly to be excluded from the designation are already starting to organize protests. It is reported that legislators representing the flooded areas are going on a rampage of lobbying and pulling strings to get their areas designated as special disaster areas.
This is the first time the government will designate special disaster areas, so its actions will be an important precedent. This summer's heavy rainfall and typhoons struck not just a few limited regions but the entire country. The selection of areas to be designated for the government's special relief measures and compensation will be a sensitive issue.
Special disaster areas would get a "compensation first, survey after" exception from the general rule of compensating natural disaster victims after surveying the actual damage. This would save precious time for the victims. The amount of compensation will also be greater for residents of the special disaster areas. It is not hard to understand the desperation of residents who have lost almost everything but the clothes on their back to have their homes included in these special disaster areas. The problem, however, is that this compensation comes from a limited government fund, and the source of the money is the taxpayer.
One of the most important factors is fairness. The government should try to meet the flood victims' needs and complaints by conducting accurate damage surveys and provide clear standards for the special disaster area designation. Damage, of course, will be found to vary from region to region and home to home, but neither Seoul nor the victims can afford to wait for detailed assessments of losses before beginning relief work. The money should be distributed before Sept. 21, the beginning of the Chuseok holiday.
Politicking must be kept out of the designation decisions. Criticism is already rising that too much politics has been involved in the government's decision to name special disaster zones. Already, politicians are heckling one another and squabbling over the issue. They must cooperate to let the government designate these special disaster areas speedily and fairly.
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