[EDITORIALS]Rise of the civil servants

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[EDITORIALS]Rise of the civil servants

In the past five years, the population of 88 counties nationwide has decreased by 12.2 percent, while the number of public officials in those counties has increased by 9.7 percent. As it is common sense that the number of public servants should be reduced when the number of residents receiving their service is reducing, it is absurd to see things going the opposite way.
This not only applies to public servants at county-level offices. The number of central government officials has gradually gone up and by the end of this year will reach 584,801, from 576,223 at the beginning of the administration. The administration says that it is because it is making a “good government” which works well for the people, not a “big government.” However, if this is not “big government,” what is it?
Looking into the reason the number of officials at county-level offices has increased discloses more pathetic facts. In order to address and redress Korea’s history, under the basic law for clearing our history, 16 metropolitan cities and provinces and 234 cities, counties and districts hired one extra official each. In addition, the government plans to hire 890 more local officials. About 100 to 200 were employed to investigate victims of forced labor under Japanese rule and participants in the Donghak Revolution, a peasant movement in 1894. Officials were also hired for the government officials’ union, disaster management and control of pine tree parasites.
Of course some departments of district offices inevitably need more employees to strengthen services for elders. However, it is hard to understand the excessive hiring of local government officials for the administration’s own interests, such as investigating the past, distributing power to local governments and administrative renovation.
Moreover, as the officials were hired without proper planning, in some places they are doing other work because, for instance, there are no farmers who participated in the Donghak Revolution. Due to such a situation, some district offices cannot employ necessary officials, like physical therapists.
Look at our neighboring country, Japan. It aims at a “small government” by reducing 5 percent of government officials over five years, abolishing paid breaks of officials by 30 minutes a day and privatizing Japan Post. Germany and Singapore are doing the same thing. It is very difficult to reduce the number of officials once they are hired. If more people are needed, existing human resources should be redistributed. Merge or abolish existing districts or look for ways to transfer public services to private organizations.
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