[EDITORIALS]Trim the porkDespite criticism that next year’s budget is already too large, National Assembly committees are asking for even more money to spend next year.
Last week, the committees finished their preparatory inspections of government agencies under their authority. As a result, the committees asked for 1.3 trillion won more than the budget originally requested by the government.
The government’s budget of 221.4 trillion won was already being criticized by civic watchdogs for including redundant and wasteful items.
Yet the very National Assembly that should try to curtail this budget is asking for even more.
The opposition Grand National Party originally demanded a tax reduction and called for budget reductions of 8.9 trillion won. The ruling Uri Party, while hoping that the government’s budget proposal will pass the Assembly, has also announced that it will actively seek to curtail any unnecessary spending.
However, despite public calls by each political party for a reduced budget, committee members seem to be following political expediency, hearing just the demands of their supporters and constituents when deliberating the budget. Unless this changes, we will never be able to cure our chronic “illness” of pork barrel budgets.
According to the National Assembly Budget Office, the government’s budget for next year included 400 billion won for similar or redundant items among a total of 24 projects. The National Assembly should try to uncover such waste and save our people’s tax money.
It should also cut back on unnecessary or inappropriate spending whether or not the Budget Office includes them in its report. Although not as big a reduction as originally reported, the Grand National Party now is planning to call for a cut of some 6 trillion won from the budget.
The Grand National Party must devote all its efforts to reducing the budget if only to prove the legitimacy of its demands for lower taxes. The Uri Party should also assume the responsibility of the governing party and boldly eliminate unnecessary spending instead of just talking about it.
Only the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts deliberation and passage at the plenary session remains for next year’s budget to be confirmed. The legislators should keep in mind that the public will be watching.