[EDITORIALS]Throwing money away

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[EDITORIALS]Throwing money away

Yecheon Airport in North Gyeongsang province will be shut down only two years after it was opened. No, there have not been radical changes in the industries or population in Yecheon. It is the result of constructing an airport without thinking through the implications for the region.
Last year, airports in provinces saw a whopping 48 billion won ($42 million) in losses. Of the 16 provincial airports, only Gimhae and Jeju airports are making profits. With the launch of high speed rail on April 1, the airports’ losses are expected to swell even further. Meanwhile, construction of Uljin, Muan, and Gimje airports are under way.
Is there another country on earth that would proceed with such a dumb plan? The government has to stop the construction and reconsider. But despite the certainty that it is wasting money, the government is still pouring cash into the projects.
What is the Ministry of Construction and Transportation doing? Whether it is a freeway or high speed rail, the construction has started years back according to a plan. It is unbelievable that a prediction far from actual traffic was made.
The ministry says it had to make political decisions to treat regions equally. But if the government, because of the influence of lawmakers or regional sentiment, builds facilities that are to be closed due to low demand, that is neglect of duty and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
But such practices are not confined to airport projects. From the Saemangeum reclaimed land to small-scale road constructions in the provinces, many have been pursued because of regional selfishness or for political reasons. Predicting demands, analyzing costs and benefits, or examining whether they befit a national development plan have all been ignored.
We demand that government officials who neglect their duty and cave in to political pressure be held responsible. We voters are also to blame. We should not have voted for politicians who made overblown promises of building this or that facility in the region. Whether such facilities are really needed must be examined. Why don’t we understand that our taxes are being wasted? We demand fair and accurate analysis. We demand that taxpayers’ money not be wasted.

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