Localized views on mergersAs the deadline for voluntary merger applications ended last Wednesday, 46 cities and counties from 18 regions across the country have submitted proposals. Thus, procedures for administrative mergers are now under way in earnest.
The fact that the Ministry of Public Administration and Security expected that approximately 30 cities and counties would submit an application at the outset shows that a consensus on the need for administrative mergers is widely disseminated across the country.
In particular, such proposals were submitted by local residents in 21 cities and counties. This number is far higher than the 14 proposals led by the head of a local government or 15 proposals led by local councils. It demonstrates a high level of self-motivation and enthusiasm among local residents for a merger of any city and county governments.
However, administrative mergers are unlikely to be smooth sailing. Among the cities and counties volunteering to combine, only five regions mutually agreed on their potential merger partners. The remaining 13 regions disagreed about their possible city or county partners. Even those that initially agree with each other might have future disagreements, and considerable difficulties may arise in the lead up to the merger. In some regions, we heard that heads of local governments are engaged in campaign activities against the will of local residents.
As mentioned innumerable times, administrative mergers that integrate any neighboring city or county with the similar economic zone should be based on the twin pillars of the comfort and convenience of residents. And they should maximize administrative efficiency.
There is never any chance for the unapologetic pursuit of self-interest by public officials or by heads of local governments or lawmakers. Once the application is complete, local councils representing the interest of local residents will have the whip hand over the merger.
Alternatively, if necessary, a referendum for and against the merger will be conducted, giving local residents the final say.
Heads of local governments should spare no effort to help facilitate these voluntary mergers led by local residents.
The pursuit of self-interest should not put a damper on the heated atmosphere for integration. This is a serious crime that involves hampering sustainable local development and runs counter to social integration. Residents should engage in integration from a broad point of view, going far beyond the boundary of a shortsighted regional self-centeredness.
The psychological sense of loss that “my tax money is not being spent the way I want it spent” will be better remunerated by the synergy created by mergers, such as large-scale construction of social overhead capital and creation of the industrial complex.
Regional futures will fall into the hands of local residents.