[EDITORIALS]A waste of money

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[EDITORIALS]A waste of money

The government recently announced a plan to build one or two new towns in each of 10 metropolitan areas and provinces. According to the plan, at least 10 and up to 20 new towns would be built around the nation except for the Seoul metropolitan area and a proposed new administrative capital. The government said it would move 180 to 200 state-run organizations that are currently in the Seoul metropolitan area to the new towns for the sake of balanced development. Considering the negative effects from concentration in the Seoul metropolitan area, the government’s basic intention to disperse the population, industries and economic power arouses sympathy. Nobody will protest against the government’s intention to develop the whole nation equally and improve the livelihood of the residents of underdeveloped regions.
But the government is taking the wrong steps. Such plans should be promoted in the framework of a comprehensive project for the development of the whole nation. The decision on the plans should have been preceded by exact estimates of how many people will move, what industries will move, whether the regions to be developed will be linked with the existing cities; and what changes will come in education, the natural environment and transportation networks. The government does not seem to have made such estimates. Accordingly, some criticize the plans as hasty.
The government said it would cost 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) to 8 trillion won just to purchase land for new towns. The actual cost of new town construction will reach tens of trillions of won, analysts said. Where will the government find the money? The government experienced problems such as serious shortage of building material and a surge in wages when it built several new towns simultaneously. Have the officials in the Ministry of Construction and Transportation already forgotten? In addition, the government is as good as stimulating real estate speculation by suddenly announcing development plans without measures against speculation. The government’s plans could extend real estate speculation from the Seoul metropolitan area to the whole nation.
Development without careful planning wastes land and money.

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