Wasteful spending

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Wasteful spending

National Theater of Korea employees get 98 vacation days a year, and some performers can earn 44 million won ($38,908) in a year without even making a stage appearance. These figures are egregiously high, even when considering that the performing arts is an extraordinary and exceptional field.

Many members of performance groups that fall under the National Theater’s umbrella also take second jobs or receive money for outside activities without getting the green light first.

At the same time, National Theater performers often boycott or delay shows because of labor disputes. While this might seem fine to people with a deep understanding and appreciation of the arts, it doesn’t sit well with the general population.

The situation at the Ministry of Public Administration and Security is equally appalling. The ministry spent nearly 900 million won to finance overseas study projects for 344 junior officials. What exactly does the government believe these young officials need to learn so urgently in other countries when they still lack knowledge of domestic affairs?

What’s worse, money funneled to these projects was spent on everything from attending performances involving elephants to sightseeing trips to the Great Wall of China.

This creates valid concerns over what the future of our governance will be like if junior public servants are learning at an early age to squander tax money for personal use and entertainment. The examples of government waste don’t stop there.

Take the recent move to increase the number of emergency rescue helicopters. Local officials in regions throughout the country received 32.5 billion won in subsidies from the central government to purchase a total of eight rescue choppers. The only problem? The helicopters are largely being used for other purposes.

In fact, just 13 percent of their total flights so far have been tied to rescues. The choppers mostly have been used to transport government officials to various locations for a host of different reasons, including personal ones. Some mayors and governors used the helicopters to attend horse races. Others used them to visit the hometowns of former presidents.

The recent state audit uncovered numerous loopholes and concerns in government tax spending. Members of the public dutifully pays taxes with their hard-earned salaries, and in return they expect that the money will be used to benefit them and strengthen the nation. Lawmakers must become much more stern when overseeing tax spending and look to punish government employees who squander money provided by the public.
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