[EDITORIALS]Aimless meanderings

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[EDITORIALS]Aimless meanderings

The government has presented a plan for streamlining the management and supervision of various public enterprises and organizations by putting them under one channel. The Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization, the Ministry of Planning and Budget and the Korea Development Insitute worked out the plan to innovate the governance of public businesses and organizations. Under it, government subsidiaries that are affiliated to various ministries are to be placed under the control and supervision of a National Public Enterprise Management Committee that will be created under the Ministry of Planning and Budget. The reason is that, in order to eradicate irregularities and inefficiency deep-rooted in public organizations, centralized control and supervision is necessary.
Whenever irregularities involving public enterprises have been exposed, lax management is criticized and the necessity to restructure emphasized. The Audit and Inspection Board has even launched an investigation and the Planning and Budget Ministry lamented laxity in budget management, employment and personnel and salary systems.
Despite the correct diagnosis of problems in the public organizations, however, the restructuring plan goes in the wrong direction. The fundamental reason public organizations or enterprises become hotbeds of corruption and inefficiency lies in the monopolistic nature of such public entities: On the ground they deal in state business, they have operated without competition from the beginning. On top of that, each ministry utilized them for the purpose of providing posts for retiring civil servants, which in turn brought about lax management. Without resolving such structrual problems, just placing them under the Planning and Budget Ministry, there will be no management improvement.
The problems of public organizations can’t be solved by simply changing the way they are managed and supervised. What is necessary is to change the way of thinking that all government enterprises should be privatized except those in fields that are inevitable for the government to take care of. But the present government has stopped the privatization of some public enterprises that were scheduled, and even expanded government intervention in the private sector. It has taken the completely opposite direction to Japan, which promotes privatization even of Japan Post. As the government tries to solve the problem while evading the right answer, it is doomed to wander around aimlessly.
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