[EDITORIALS]Selfishness hurts the nation

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[EDITORIALS]Selfishness hurts the nation

National Assembly legislators’ selfish attempts to distribute the budget so that each lawmaker can win favorable projects for his constituency are being repeated again. The lawmakers seem to have forgotten their pledge for reform, and the chronic bad practices that plagued the previous Assembly are continuing.
Last year, when the government was drawing up the national budget, it said the money allotted to roads, which was relatively high compared to other infrastructure, would be redistributed to railroads and ports. It is a good thing that there are big highways and paved roads in all parts of the country. However, there is an order of priority in everything. In the nation’s best interest, the government established a plan to invest in neglected railroads and harbor facilities instead of demonstration projects aimed at winning the favor of locals.
In the budget deliberation process, funds for roads expanded 170 billion won ($160 million), including a project for road design between Gwangju and Wando. Road construction projects that are not urgent were included in the budget because the lawmakers from the Jeolla region demanded money to pave more roads in their areas.
Putting aside the amount of budget, it is difficult for the government to maintain funds for social overhead costs, if the government heeds the demands of the legislators to cater to their constituencies.
There are innumerable cases where lawmakers try to get money for “exhibitionist” projects that would win them popularity and votes among their constituents but eventually waste taxpayers’ money. The airports in Yangyang and Muan are such cases: They have become obsolete because of lack of demand.
Investment in infrastructure is a matter of distributing limited funds evenly and wisely. In order to enhance national competitiveness, we must invest according to the principle of selection and concentration. We must meticulously determine what should be the order of priority for the nation. Even if the government came up with a balanced investment plan for social infrastructure, the legislators’ attempts to gain favors for their constituents would ruin the government’s efforts for efficient national investment. We ask the lawmakers to think conscientiously about what is urgent for the entire nation, instead of what they want for their constituents.
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