Paying for northern lightThe Ministry of Unification is pushing for an increase in electricity prices in South Korea to compensate losses that the Korea Electronic Power Corporation has sustained at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. After repeated requests by the power company, the ministry decided that the government will compensate the company for the losses it has already had. The ministry has also said that from now on electricity rates for South Korea will be applied to the Kaesong complex as well.
That means the South Korean power corporation will apply the same electricity fees to the Kaesong Industrial Complex as those that it uses for South Korea’s industrial usage. However, the Korea Electric Power Corporation will still suffer losses from providing electricity to the industrial park because electricity prices are lower for industry than for households.
Thus, the power corporation plans to raise electric fees for South Korean households in order to compensate for losses made in providing power to the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
In the end, it will become unclear whether the power corporation provides aid to the industrial park or not.
The problem is that South Koreans will have to pay more for electricity without knowing what the money will be used for. The Ministry of Unification claims that it can support the Kaesong complex the same way it does South Korea’s industries, in accordance with a law about providing aid to the North Korean industrial park. But the Ministry of Justice said that it is difficult to decide that South Korean rates can be applied to the Kaesong complex. Legally speaking, it is right to regard providing power to the North Korean industrial park as a separate matter from providing power to South Korea.
It is understandable that the Ministry of Unification is trying to provide all possible aid to make the Kaesong complex successful.
But the losses must be compensated within the state’s budget, after earning approval from the National Assembly. That way, the people can see clearly how their tax money is used.
After an upcoming summit meeting with North Korea, projects for providing aid to North Korea are likely to increase.
In that case, the scale and content of the projects must be clarified and every single project must go through the right procedures. It is wrong to provide aid to North Korea while secretly increasing the burdens on the South Korean people.