[EDITORIALS]Government is too complacentA director general of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs criticized the inflexibility and incompetency of bureaucracy at a training session of the ministry by saying, “Cabinet ministers decide matters that clerical staffs can handle.” It is worth heeding as he is a high-ranking official who served for the government over 20 years.
He pointed out, “Young people who pass the civil service exam become bureaucrats after they join the service, and they think they’re better than civilians.”
Those who get government jobs are guaranteed a job till retirement, so there is no need to try to develop themselves. They have a tendency to think themselves the masters of the country because they hold the authority to execute the legal provisions of the government.
Although they are called servants, in reality, they try to reign over people. They try to grab whatever power is within their reach, such as the rights to authorize and give permits to people.
The inefficiencies and lack of competitiveness in the bureaucracy have long been the subject of mockery. When large-scale national projects are stalled because of people’s protests, central government offices establish a commission that will cater to their needs, wasting time in the process.
One good example is the Special Commission on the Saemangeum project. Hundreds of civil servants stay outside ministries like “satellites” because they don’t have any posts or missions inside the ministry. At some influential ministries, the number of such “satellites” amounts to 7 or 8 percent of all officials.
Whenever a new administration takes over, it tries to carry out measures to boost the competitiveness of the bureaucracy, but we still hear criticism from inside.
It is necessary to abolish or make flexible the system of guaranteeing the status of civil servants. The idea of paying them in accordance with their productivity is also reasonable.
The government must regain vitality through competition and cooperation with the private sector. With a laid back organization, where a cabinet member decides what a clerical staff member can handle, we cannot improve national competitiveness. We cannot let bureaucracy burden the private sector.