A belated drive for reformThe Saenuri Party has rolled up its sleeves to reform the debt-ridden public sector. It aims to root out public corporations with chronic deficits and sell off their assets and subsidiaries. It is also determined to introduce a new salary system based on employee performances instead of one based on seniority, and establish solid legal foundations to prevent abuse by superiors.
In an ambitious move to correct the rampant malpractices in seven large public companies, including the Korea Electric Power Corporation and the Korea Gas Corporation, the party has come up with a detailed action plan.
The Saenuri’s special committee for economic innovation and a subcommittee in charge of public-sector reform held a public forum yesterday to propose a revision of the law on public institutions. We regard the party’s move as a positive sign for public-sector reform even when a number of economy-related bills couldn’t be passed at all due to the standoff between the Saenuri and the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy over the special Sewol law. We also welcome the ruling party’s aggressive dash toward a full-fledged renovation of the outmoded public sector, which has been repeatedly thwarted by the labor unions of public corporations.
But the Saenuri Party’s drive for reform leaves much to be desired in terms of timing and content. There is no disagreement on mending public companies’ lax management styles, and there is already a consensus on the need for reform. The government has thus strived to curb loose management and reduce snowballing deficits after kicking off an initiative to put public corporations back on track since the second half of last year. As a result, the government’s crusade has begun to bear fruit. The ruling party’s announcement of reform under such circumstances looks quite belated. In terms of content, too, most of the ideas overlap with the government’s plans - with some of them not looking very feasible.
A bigger problem is that the ruling party caused confusion among people by unilaterally coming up with reform plans without consulting the government. This could easily lead to unnecessary resistance and opposition among the public corporations in question and their labor unions.
No one can find fault with the principles of the ruling party’s public-sector reform campaign. But simply copying the administration’s one-year-old reform package and presenting it as if it is the Saenuri’s own is different. It would have been much better for the party to point out expected loopholes in the government’s reform plan and help the administration legislate its ideas through close consultation instead.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 20, Page 30