Take action on pending bills

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Take action on pending bills

The National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee yesterday submitted to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee a revision to the pharmacy law, which strictly bans the sale of over-the-counter drugs like cold or digestive pills outside of drug stores.

It’s been seven months since the government decided to revise the law to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to sell over-the-counter drugs. But consumers will have to wait a long time before they are able to buy basic medications from their neighborhood supermarkets. Despite the fact that a majority of people welcome sales of over-the-counter medicines in places other than drugstores, legislators have been overly careful not to offend pharmacists - a chest-thumping group that is against the law revision - ahead of the legislative elections slated for April.

We cannot but interpret the lawmakers’ submission of the law revision as an attempt to hide from the public uproar over it, because the law revision will be held up for as long as they protract the deliberation process in the Legislation and Judiciary Committee. According to the political calendar, current lawmakers’ terms are set wind down beginning later this month, considering the time they will need to campaign. That means all bills will be discarded unless they go through the plenary session of the Assembly by the end of this month.

At the moment, there are a whopping 6,600 bills, including 415 bills proposed by the government, that are likely to be automatically repealed in the current National Assembly session. Some of them were sponsored by lawmakers who only wanted them for their personal records, but there are many that the government should not scrap because they are related to citizens’ livelihoods and they have already been thoroughly scrutinized in the ladders of government. If the bills are dumped because lawmakers are not reelected or because of conflict between the ruling and opposition parties, the cost will be borne by the nation and its citizens.

The Ministry of Government Legislation says that of the 415 government-drafted bills, 11 relate to ways to beef up our economy, six deal with critical issues such as movement toward a fairer society and the co-prosperity of large and small companies, and 50 are related to initiatives to upgrade government permission systems. It is our legislators’ dereliction of duty to leave these bills unattended. However busy they are in preparing for the upcoming elections, they must do their best to finalize the bills, no matter what.
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