[EDITORIALS]Creative thinkers neededEven before the new administration takes office, the nation’s bureaucrats are visibly and preemptively toeing the policy lines of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun. One illustrative example concerns the adoption of an allinclusive tax on inheritance and gift donations. The Ministry of Finance and Economy, worried about the system infringing on the constitution, initially set as a mid- and longterm agenda the adoption of the new tax system. But just recently, the ministry changed its stance and said that it will adopt the new taxation system sometime this year. The Fair Trade Commission, which is pushing for separation of financial companies that are affiliates of jaebeol, changed its stance from making it a voluntary measure to a mandatory one. The bureaucrats seem set to further strengthen the regulations of putting ceilings on crossinvestment, which the conglomerates call an excessive regulation. The death of a special tax on farming and fishing villages, originally set for this year, has also been postponed.
The government appears to be diddling on its plans for education and labor, paramount policies in Korea, as it tries to meet the president-elect’s views on those areas. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources has drafted a law setting up parent-teacher associations, teachers associations and professors associations, in its report to the presidential transition committee. On the other hand, the ministry has written off plans to permit a larger number of independent private schools, a policy initiative mulled under President Kim Dae-jung. Several government agencies are known to have openly studied the president-elect’s policy views to revise their briefings to the committee, and then leaked the revised contents to the media.
Of course, we cannot criticize public servants who conscientiously study the president-elect’s philosophy and ideas on a range of issues. Nor can we blame them for tinkering with the policies as a way to fine tune the differences. But it would be a nice change to see these public servants adhere to their erstwhile pet policies and then, with integrity, persuasively sell those policies to the new transition committee.