Revised Sejong plan giving way to old blueprint

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Revised Sejong plan giving way to old blueprint

Bahk Jae-wan, senior presidential secretary for state affairs planning, said the government will go back to the original plan for the Sejong City project, which would move many government offices to South Chungcheong, if the National Assembly rejects a revised bill that aims to turn Sejong City into an education, science and corporate hub.

In an interview with state-run broadcaster KTV yesterday, Bahk said it is inappropriate to come up with a compromise plan that might satisfy the ruling party and the opposition, which originally pushed the Sejong City project through the National Assembly. In the original blueprint, nine ministries and four government agencies from the capital will be moved. The revision, which will likely die in the Assembly, was promoted by the Lee Myung-bak administration.

“Many companies decided to invest in Sejong City based on the revised plan because they would enjoy benefits, including tax breaks,” Bahk said. “Returning to the original blueprint will mean that incentives to attract companies will shrink dramatically.”

While the original blueprint, put forward by Roh Moo-hyun during the 2002 presidential election, is supported by opposition parties, the revised plan is supported by the ruling Grand National Party. GNP lawmakers argue the relocation of key government agencies will cause chaos.

Deputy floor leaders of the GNP and Democratic Party last Wednesday agreed to a vote on the revision bill Tuesday in the National Assembly’s Committee on Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs. The two sides agreed that if the bills are rejected in the committee, the GNP will step back and respect the original blueprint. Now it is unclear whether the committee vote will happen on Tuesday as Blue House senior officials and GNP lawmakers loyal to President Lee Myung-bak have changed their voting positions.

The GNP is insisting the bills be put to a vote by the entire Assembly even if they get voted down in committee.

According to the law, a bill cannot get to a plenary vote until it passes through the relevant committee, but even if the committee votes to kill it, a vote by the entire assembly is possible if 30 lawmakers request it.

“When both the GNP and DP agreed to vote in the committee, the two sides agreed on euthanizing Lee’s Sejong plans,” DP Spokesman Woo Sang-ho said. “If [the GNP] doesn’t withdraw its intention to put the bill in a plenary session, we will review the original agreement.”

By Namkoong Wook, Kim Mi-ju []
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