Come up with realistic solutionsAfter several government ministries balked at implementing President-elect Park Geun-hye’s vows in the December election, tension is building between the incoming and outgoing powers. Park’s transition committee reportedly feels uneasy about the incumbent administration’s action since the ministries’ positions were leaked to the media even before they were reported to the committee.
The committee is suspicious that the ministries are attempting to protect their interests in defiance of Park’s campaign pledges. Park Sun-kyu, a spokesman for the president-elect, said Saturday, “It is not desirable for ministries to demonstrate reluctance to execute the president-elect’s promises citing practical problems.” He added that Park was uncomfortable with the ministries’ tendency to keep the status quo without a willingness to address problems on behalf of the people.
The hottest topics are Park’s commitment to cover 100 percent of the medical costs for four major categories - cancer, heart disease, brain disorders and rare diseases - through state coffers. The Ministry of Health and Welfare argues that the new government’s plan to expand medical coverage for expensive treatments would only encourage people to unnecessarily use services that the government cannot afford. The Ministry of National Defense, too, contends that if the term of compulsory service is cut to 18 months from the current 21 months while the number of soldiers decreases from the current 640,000 to 520,000 by 2020, it would seriously weaken our military capability. The ministry points out that an additional budget of 1 trillion won ($947 million) would be required annually if the government increases the number of noncommissioned officers to fill the gap.
Presidential promises for security and welfare have practical considerations. The government must very carefully approach the issue by considering any potential shock to the economy or whether over-the-top welfare services would cause recipients to abandon their duty to be responsible consumers of health care services. The president-elect’s vow to cut the period of military service came with only three days left to Election Day, and it will need more thorough review before being implemented. Moreover, the fiscal health of our government will be threatened due to the dismal 2.8 percent growth expected for this year and a decrease of exports because of the strength of the won.
If the ministries’ arguments are incorrect, Park must prove otherwise. She needs to present practical answers if she wants to avoid an authoritative image.