[EDITORIALS]Restructure committeesThis year’s budget for the numerous committees under the Blue House has increased by 24.2 billion won ($25 million) from last year. An analysis done by Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Kei-kyung, based on data received from the National Assembly Budget Office, shows the budget for the 29 committees directly listed under the president has grown to 197.6 billion won. Add the budget for committees under the Prime Minister and the total becomes 433.3 billion won, a 42.3 billion won increase. Just after the current administration was launched, the total funds for the 18 presidential advisory committees in 2003 was 17.3 billion won. In that sense, the committee budget has multiplied by more than 20 times since then.
The various committees under the president have been the subject of controversy as being the source of chaotic state affairs. Above all, they have caused confusion because many of their tasks overlapped those of government departments. However, unlike normal government offices ― which are formed according to the law ― there were few systematic restraints that the National Assembly and the people could impose on these committees. There was also criticism that the committees were causing poor management of state affairs because their members lacked experience or a sense of reality.
This administration has been nurturing committees, saying they are our “hope.” It said the committees create road maps for middle and long-term national projects that are difficult for regular government offices to plan. The government has also claimed the committees will overcome bureaucratic selfishness seen in government offices. It vowed that the committees will reflect the creative ideas of civilians into government policies.
The budget of 20 out of the total 24 advisory committees under the president are said to be allocated in the budgets of related ministries, not in the Blue House budget. This shows that the government, also, seems to think that committee budgets have become far too large. There are 18 committees under the Prime Minister’s office that have not been assigned any budget at all. It is no wonder these committees are criticized as being a shortcut to creating positions for people.
Now that it is the second half of the president’s term, the committees should be restructured so that only a minimal number will remain. Those middle and long-term projects that the committees have been working on should be returned to regular government offices in order to raise the efficiency of state management.