Privatize for the peopleThere is a company where a worker receives 2 million won ($2,100) when his or her spouse’s great grandfather dies. In another company, workers take a day off on the company’s anniversary and when they do voluntary work. That is what’s going on at companies where the government is the majority shareholder. The workers have little discipline, are paid well and are immune from dismissal. These jobs are from heaven. This is why 150,000 applicants lined up when the government advertised 900 jobs.
One may find it hard to believe that such companies exist when looking at reports about them released by the Ministry of Planning and Budget. In the private sector, competition is fierce. But in government-controlled companies, workers have an easy time. A consultant executive at one government-controlled company confessed that he was surprised to see bonuses given for private matters like marriages or deaths.
Each year, the Board of Audit and Inspection evaluates these companies and their managements and call for reforms ― requests that have been nothing but show. As government-controlled companies feed their self-interest with tax money, people feel cheated. Last year, one out of five government-controlled companies saw deficits. Net revenues decreased by 30 percent and liabilities increased by 20 trillion won. Now the people have to pick up the bill.
Most government-controlled companies enjoy monopolies. There is little competition, and the companies can get as much money as they need from taxpayers. It is natural that inefficiency prevails and that powerful officials take important positions and abuse their authority. Many executives believe a network of contacts is more important than competence. It is said that most government officials believe they can get away with corruption if they keep a low profile for a while after wrongdoing has been revealed.
Most government-controlled companies should be privatized except a few that must be run by the government. That is what advanced countries do. Our country had begun this process, but this administration has increased the size of the government and the job of privatizing state-run companies slowed down and then stopped. We hope that the administration will realize the problems and damage government-controlled companies cause. The government should privatize these companies. For those companies it cannot privatize, the government should supervise them closely and strictly. That is the least it can do for its people.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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