The people’s money

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The people’s money

In our national budget, there is a line for something called “extraordinary administrative expenditures.” Originally, this was used to fund classified criminal investigations or intelligence activities.
This year, a budget of 813.5 billion won ($897 million) was allocated for extraordinary administrative expenditures. There has been an increase of 212 billion won during the five years of the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Next year, the budget is expected to go up to 850.9 billion won.
The problem is that there is no way for the public to verify whether the budget is being used for its original purposes. For example, the head of the Government Information Agency and his deputy used some 364 million won from this budget line over the past year and 10 months.
There is no way of finding out how and why they used this money, which amounts to more than their salaries.
Besides the extraordinary administrative expenditures, there are various other vague budget categories that are not clearly accounted for, such as the expediency fund, administrative expenditures and extraordinary transfer tax. All in all, unaccounted budget lines total 3.6 trillion won. This is too large an amount to trust to our civil servants’ patriotic conscience.
The nation’s money must be spent under strict supervision, and it is normal to be transparent about what the budget was used for. Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is spent.
Budget lines for which there is no accountability, such as the extraordinary administrative expenditures, must be kept at a reasonable level ― far lower than it is today. There must also be objective criteria for how the budget is used. The people aren’t paying taxes for the government to allocate and spend as it pleases.
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