Provincial council gives itself raise, ignores poll

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Provincial council gives itself raise, ignores poll

The South Chungcheong Provincial Council recently voted to give a salary hike to its members despite negative public sentiment and did so without notifying the public in advance, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the council convened and voted on a revised ordinance that boosts annual payments to council members next year by 3.4 percent from this year to 54.24 million won ($48,000).

According to a person who attended the session, the passing of the ordinance took three minutes and six seconds.

However, the revised ordinance was not on the agenda the council published Monday on its Web site. Under the country’s administrative law, when a council session is scheduled, all of the items to be dealt with should be publicized in advance.

“It seems like they worried about possible complaints from civic groups when they posted the agenda,” said an administrative official from the council office.

Another possible problem is that the council followed the Nov. 9 recommendation of a review committee on salaries, which endorsed the increase despite public opposition.

An ordinance requires the council to get opinions of residents through a survey before raising salaries, and in a survey of 700 provincial residents conducted Oct. 24-25, 66.7 percent of respondents said an interim plan to increase salaries by 2.3 percent to 53.64 million won was “too high.” Only 4.0 percent of the respondents said it was low, with the other 29.3 percent saying it was an appropriate increase.

Despite the negative reaction to a 2.3 percent salary hike from a majority of the residents polled, the council raised its salaries by an even higher amount.

The annual salaries for council members, 52.44 million won, are the second highest among provincial councils in the country.

Under guidelines of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, if there is a breach of rules in the process of increasing salaries for regional council members, the ministry can demand the council reverse its action.

“We are reviewing a plan to penalize a regional council if it raises its budget without reflecting the results of a public survey and resists taking corrective measures,” said Kim Seong-ho, an official of the ministry.

Local civic groups are also planning to take issue with the council’s action.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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