[EDITORIALS]Slow down on relocation plan

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[EDITORIALS]Slow down on relocation plan

The Roh administration and the governing Uri Party have decided to build an “administrative city” in the Yeongi and Gongju area of the Chungcheong provinces, which will house 16 ministries, excluding the Foreign and Defense ministries, and seven other government offices. They decided to buy land starting this year and start construction in 2007.
The term administrative city denotes that it is not a full relocation of the capital, as the National Assembly and the Blue House will remain in Seoul. Still, claiming it is an administrative city when most government offices would be relocated there is a poor explanation. The Justice Ministry once noted that it might violate the Constitution if all 18 ministries were relocated. Now, we suspect that constitutional disputes would arise if as many as 16 ministries are relocated.
There are no criteria for determining which ministries should move. The government said the foreign and defense ministries will remain in Seoul, as maintaining a close relationship between the ministries and the president is important. Does that mean other ministries do not require a close relationship with the president? Also, the Unification Ministry, which was to remain in Seoul, would be forced to move. We think the measure is designed to satisfy Chungcheong residents who want all ministries in their area. Relocating government offices should not be a political game to garner votes. The Uri Party said the reason that construction will begin in 2007 is because it “considered that the relocation could become an issue in the 2007 presidential election.” Indeed, the administration and the party are trying to make the issue of the construction of an administrative city irreversible.
The opposition Grand National Party is even more foolish. It remains silent on the issue because it is afraid that opposing the administrative city might damage its electoral base in the Chungcheong provinces. Because of the Grand Nationals’ weakness, the administration and the governing party are pushing the plan forward.
Should we approve the plan as it is? The project would incur as much as 10 trillion won ($9.7 billion) of government money. Other costs have not been estimated yet. The project should not proceed hastily. We ask the government to review the plan from scratch considering what is best for the long-term competitiveness and balanced development of the nation.
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