Assembly sets date for revamp vote

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Assembly sets date for revamp vote

The ruling and opposition parties agreed yesterday to a legislative timetable for February, scheduling a vote on President-elect Park Geun-hye’s government restructuring for later in the month.

Chief negotiators from the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party reached a deal yesterday to begin a special 30-day session on Monday.

According to a statement released by the deputy floor leaders of the two parties, the National Assembly will have a voting session on Feb. 14 to handle 27 bills related to the plan to restructure the government organization. The legislature will also have a special auditing session to complete evaluation of the current administrative bodies on the same day.

The Saenuri Party already sponsored a bill Tuesday to make Park’s proposed changes in the government structure into law. While the ruling party wanted to keep Park’s plan as it is, the opposition DUP said it disagrees with some parts.

The DUP protested Park’s idea to promote the presidential security service in the Blue House as a ministerial-level office. It also disagrees with Park’s plan to hand over trade affairs from the foreign ministry to the commerce ministry. The DUP also resisted Park’s idea to create a giant ministry focused on future strategy and science.

The National Assembly will vote on the motion to confirm the appointment of Park’s new prime minister on Feb. 26. Park’s inauguration is scheduled for Feb. 25.

Confirmation hearings on Park’s cabinet member nominees, including the prime minister, will take place in February. Since her nomination of Kim Yong-joon for prime minister flopped, Park needs to find a new candidate as well as other ministerial nominees.

The confirmation hearings will be held Feb. 8 to 13 and Feb. 19 to 25.

“Unless there is a serious problem, it is our position to help the smooth launch of the new administration,” said Representative Woo Won-shik, deputy floor leader of the DUP. “Whether the nominees are fit or not will be decided through confirmation hearings, and we believe we need to cooperate with the timetable.”

The two major parties also agreed to form a five-member consultative group to handle the vetoed bill to provide state subsidies to the taxi industry. The lawmakers will review the government’s alternative proposal and listen to the opinions of the transportation industry before deciding on the legislature’s next move.

The two sides also reached a compromise on the thorny issue. While the liberal opposition DUP, Unified Progressive Party and Progressive Justice parties demand a National Assembly probe into the longtime labor crisis at Ssangyong Motor, the Saenuri Party has opposed the idea.

At yesterday’s negotiation, the DUP compromised to create a consultative body to handle the issue associated with the ailing automaker. Three lawmakers each from the two parties will form the group to look into the problems until late May.

“It is still the Saenuri Party’s position that politicians should stay away from the Ssangyong Motor issue,” said Representative Kim Gi-hyeon, deputy floor leader of the ruling party. “But we have to take into account the DUP’s position, so we agreed to form a consultative group.”

DUP’s Woo, however, said the party still wants a National Assembly probe.

“The consultative group will talk to the labor union, the company and the government to resolve the problems,” he said.

During the February session, the legislature will also look into the series of allegations involving the government’s illegal surveillance of civilians.

By Ser Myo-ja []
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