[EDITORIALS]A worrying answer“I learned that a small government is effective, but why is the current administration increasing the number of civil servants and raising tax revenue?”
“We’re increasing the number of officials studying whether anyone is dying of hunger, police officers who will take care of our security, and teachers who will be in charge of our education.”
This was an exchange between a high school student who won an economics prize earlier this week and Finance Minister Han Duck-soo. To such a smart question, it was a wrong answer.
The key of the question was “big government,” which the current administration promotes but which may not prove effective. The increase of tax revenue and the number of civil servants were cited merely as examples of big government. In response, Mr. Han did not discuss the effectiveness of a big government, but instead rationalized that the number of civil servants had to increase. This shows that regardless of its effectiveness, the government only wants to grow.
Mr. Han then told other contest winners on hand not to be concerned because “the government will only do what it absolutely must do, and will reduce unnecessary government agencies and expenditures.” But we wonder whether the current situation allows us to remain without worries.
Since it came to power, the administration has brought in some 20,000 new civil servants, and will add more than 10,000 to the total this year. There are 19 new posts at the cabinet minister and vice minister level, not to mention numerous committees. And yet judging from various assessments, the quality of administrative service has actually dropped. This is cause for concern.
The phrase “do what the government must do” is also open to questions. Of all the things that the government has promised to do, we have to filter out what must be done. In terms of restrictions on companies, welfare policies, and real estate policies, we feel that the government has done something it should not have. In fact, the government has failed to achieve effectiveness in matters that would have been better handled by the private sector.
On Mr. Han’s answer to her question, the student said while she understood the minister’s explanation, she feels the priority should be to foster economic growth by easing restrictions on the private sector. It was a question a high school student knew the answer to, but Mr. Han still gave a long-winded response about big government.