End revolving-door state jobs

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End revolving-door state jobs

State companies are said to be without owners. Strictly speaking, however, taxpayers are the owners. It is just that the government supervises these publicly funded companies on the public’s behalf.

Yet government officials have constantly been using these public companies for their own benefit, not that of the country, through their narrow-minded goal of making “parachuting appointments” - sending former officials to public companies under their jurisdiction.

As a result, senior bureaucrats in the government do not have to worry about their life after retiring from government posts thanks to the long-standing custom of having executive seats at public enterprises reserved for them.

You can hardly find fault with public officials seeking high-level jobs in state-invested enterprises. The problem is that many get the positions not because they are capable and committed, but because they lobbied hard for them.

Such a top-down appointment can lead to reckless and negligent governance, costing losses in public funds - or tax money. The government introduced an open recruitment system to encourage application from the private sector. But the positions are still mostly reserved and the bidding and screening process is usually carried out just for the sake of formalities.

The advisory boards tasked with recommending executives and overseeing the management of public enterprises also exist in name only and play an instrumental role for the government to reward loyal politicians or bureaucrats with the high-level jobs.

Eight out of 10 permanent auditors at public enterprises turned out to have been hired from political and bureaucratic sectors. Considering the hefty pay they receive, despite doing little, it’s no wonder the positions are highly sought after.

If their work does not require much effort, their pay should be slashed accordingly, and when the work is not done right, it should also be accounted for. If damage is done to the organization, compensation is also required.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance is in charge of overseeing public enterprises. Bahk Jae-wan, former senior secretary to the president for state affairs, has been nominated as the next finance minister.

As an architect of public sector reform in the current government, he said hiring qualified executives is the key to the reforms. We hope to see a difference this time.
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