[EDITORIALS]Assembly as audit bureauPresident Roh Moo-hyun reportedly told Park Kwan-yong, the Assembly speaker, that he will transfer auditing oversight from the Board of Audit and Inspection to the National Assembly. It is too early to tell whether the move will happen because of questions pertaining to the constitutionality of the proposal and resistance within the government, but we welcome the fact that such an issue is being given serious consideration.
Audit responsibilities, under the constitution, lie with the auditing agency, which is under the direct control of the president. Mr. Roh’s statement that he will hand over this authority to the National Assembly must not be regarded as another realization of his election campaign pledges. It shows his determination to re-establish the relationship between the Assembly and the administration.
The reason the National Assembly has not properly performed its role of checking the government is that it lacks the expertise; the legislative body has limited human resources. The Assembly could not monitor the administration appropriately, armed only with the right to investigate government affairs and the right to request an audit by the Inspection Board. In addition, the National Assembly’s review of budget plans and spending has been perfunctory. In that sense, we have a lot to learn from the U.S. Congress.
The U.S. Congress effectively challenges the administration, using the skills of 3,000 people at the General Accounting Office, Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service.
But there are many obstacles that President Roh must overcome to keep his promise, such as legal issues regarding the transfer of presidential authority under the constitution and the expected resistance from related agencies. President Roh said he would transfer the auditing authority no matter what form it takes. There will be arguments over this move, but it is welcome in the sense of the checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches.