Autonomy means accountability

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Autonomy means accountability

Local governments have been vying recklessly to host international sports events for exhibitionist purposes, dumping their losses on the central government. Some cooked up business plans to draw more funding from national coffers. Once awarded as host venues, budgets snowballed for the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju and the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju.

The problem is that the hefty tab for such international sports events is mostly handed to the central government. The bill to support the 2014 Incheon Asian Games proposes to increase the central government’s share of the budget by at least 1.78 trillion won ($1.67 billion). Local governments also have called for retroactive support from the national budget for the 2011 Daegu IAAF championships and this year’s Rowing Championships in Chungju.

The annual Formula One Korean Grand Prix in Yeongam that the South Jeolla provincial government hosted for the last past four years took place without the central government’s authorization. Yet the provincial government so far has sought legislation to provide 96 billion won in assistance. Local administrations must be accountable for recklessly competing to host sports events without due diligence concerning affordability and economic benefits.

Yet, when they run into deficits, they turn to the central government to clean up the mess.

In order to ensure autonomy, local governments must be given the authority to design and pursue business plans and policies for regional development. But such autonomy and authority must be accompanied by accountability. Local governments should be free to sponsor and host events and business projects, but they also must take full responsibility for the outcomes.

The central government also should draw a clear line in providing financial assistance. For ventures it has not officially licensed, it must make local governments pay the price.

In that way, local administrations would be more prudent in mapping out business plans for residents and regional development and restrain themselves from vain competition in exhibitionist political events and projects.
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