[EDITORIALS]Innovative planningThe Ministry of Construction and Transportation announced yesterday that the total size of its Innovation City project would be cut from 5,808 hectares (14,340 acres) to 4,310 hectares.
Ten cities had been designated as “innovation cities,” and 175 government agencies were to have moved to new quarters in those places. The change, the ministry said, reflected new estimates of the demand for the new sites.
Separately, a new law to fund the construction of innovation cities is to be enacted before the end of this year. The first thing necessary is not a reduction in the project’s size, but an examination of the project itself.
The government initiated the project to spur balanced development across the country, but it is not at all clear that it will have that effect. The economies of the designated areas have been sluggish, and it is doubtful that moving government offices to them will revive overall demand. In addition, the new cities are to be built on the outskirts of existing cities. They could drain the cities’ central areas of some of their remaining vitality.
The old downtown of Daejeon has been devastated as the Daedeok and Yuseong districts were developed. The commercial areas in the old downtown of Gwangju are having a hard time; City Hall has moved to a western part of the city and the South Jeolla provincial offices moved to Muan county. So most of the local residents will probably not gain much from the cities, except for those who sell their land for the project.
The central government’s forced relocation of public entities does not take the efficiency of government offices into account. If a government office wants to move to another area out of necessity, it should be able to negotiate with that city and move into the city center. That makes more sense than new satellite cities.
Once the government starts compensating land owners, there will be repercussions in the real estate market. That has already reportedly begun happening in the area where Seoul’s new administrative capital is to be built.
There have been cases in which the government started a project in the wrong way but could not halt it halfway. As a result, tremendous economic losses were seen. The Saemangeum reclamation project is one of them. The innovation city project should be examined thoroughly now, before the law is enacted and exact locations decided.
This is the right way to prevent waste and to increase efficiency.