Rules for consolidation announced

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Rules for consolidation announced

New guidelines for consolidating local administrative units in a fair and orderly process were announced yesterday by a presidential committee in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce redundancies among neighboring cities, counties and districts.

The guidelines come after last year’s initiative by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security to consolidate local administrative units, which resulted in only one consolidation among 18 candidate regions.

The presidential committee was formed to focus specifically on the issue, under the government’s belief that there are too many local units.

“We confirmed the standards yesterday,” said Kang Hyeon-wook, head of the committee, yesterday. “The guidelines to combine cities, towns, gun [counties] and gu [districts] will be the framework to help regions decide on their own [whether to consolidate] and to start negotiations.”

Under the new guidelines, local administrative units wishing to consolidate are required to follow three rules: respecting the opinions of residents, fulfilling specific standards to qualify for consolidation, and taking into account regional characteristics.

Local administrative units with low population density or those with sharp population declines will be considered for consolidation.

Other local administrative units to be considered are those where consolidation is necessary because of geography or because separate administrative jurisdictions result in inconveniences for residents or hinder regional development. Places with similar histories and cultures as well as places that would benefit economically from consolidation will also be considered.

In the case of towns that wish to combine with others, the regional head of the administration, the city council or more than one-fiftieth of legal resident voters should inform the mayor or governor by the year’s end.

Applications for consolidation, Kang said, should be submitted by October so that the committee can assess them. Once the committee has gathered applications from local administrative units, it will develop a basic framework of regional consolidation and report it to the Blue House and the National Assembly by next June.

Regions up for consolidation will determine their residents’ willingness to do so through various methods, such as referendums, around 2013, with the process to be complete by July 2014.

By Christine Kim []
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