Buying votesThe presidential candidates or aspirants from the ruling and opposition parties are traveling across the country making rosy, extravagant promises.
Whenever there are elections, candidates propose development projects with reckless abandon as they beg for votes and their projects often become expensive disasters. This vicious circle must end. The Saemangeum reclamation project was created on the basis of a promise by former President Roh Tae-woo as he fought to win votes in South and North Jeolla provinces. Environmental organizations have repeatedly blocked the project which last year finally managed to finish an embankment. The cost was forecast to be 1.7 trillion won ($1.8 billion) but due to the delays it has already cost more than 3 trillion won. Land refill inside the embankment is expected to cost an additional 3 to 6 trillion won. And the overall direction of the project has still not been decided.
When President Roh Moo-hyun was a presidential candidate he promised to transfer the capital from Seoul to Chungcheong Province. The project was designed to win him votes in Chungcheong and there was no examination of the potential for chaos. The project was ruled to be unconstitutional and its scale was reduced to the construction of an administrative city. Compensation money for the site alone will be 4.6 trillion won.
Combined with the costs of moving government offices, 40 trillion won is expected to be spent. That figure excludes the costs of moving private institutions and buildings. If this amount of money is used directly to promote development in certain areas, it will have much better results. The money and effort for the project are wasted for political purposes.
The Honam express train line, a project pledged by former President Kim Dae-jung, has been pushed through even though the Ministry of Construction and Transportation said it was economically inefficient.
Some airports were built because they were offered as pledges during election campaigns and now few people use them. Countless construction projects that were campaign pledges failed because they were planned in a hasty manner without an examination of their economic efficiency.
Similar pledges are being made during this campaign. Lee Myung-bak has pledged to build a cross-country waterway. He used to oppose an administrative city but now he says he is the best to do the job and even revealed intent to extend the functions of the city. The presidential hopefuls of the new party pour out pledges. Pledges of development plans are an easy way to win over votes. But we cannot find our future in reckless development projects. We hope that the presidential hopefuls and candidates will present a more honest vision for the future.