Seoul gov’t sues to save subsidies

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Seoul gov’t sues to save subsidies

Seoul city government has left the fate of its program to provide stipends to unemployed young adults to the Supreme Court, filing a lawsuit to the Supreme Court on Friday to reverse the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s decision to shut down the program. Additionally, it also filed an injunction to suspend the program’s termination.

“We tried to come to an agreement with the ministry and cooperate with them to develop a program under the philosophy that conversing with the youth is the best way to solve intricate issues,” said Goo Jong-won, an official from Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Youth Policy Division, during a press conference on Friday. “But we haven’t heard any response from them, even with the litigation that requires them to give us a decision after 15 days, which has already passed. So we have reached out to the Supreme Court for a verdict.”

The current local autonomy law allows any local autonomous entity to file a lawsuit or complaint to the Supreme Court within 15 days of any programs that were ordered to be shut down by the central government.

Earlier this month, the city government distributed 500,000 won ($447) as part of the youth program to 2,831 of the 3,000 young adults who applied. In response, the ministry decided to shut down the program because “the city government did not go through the required process of cooperating and negotiating with the government, as is clearly stated in the Framework Act on Social Security.”

The city government refuted the ministry’s claim, saying they have been working closely together for six months.

“We have been following the recommendations of the health minister closely and reflected them in our youth support program, even making amendments based on his opinions as we progressed,” said Jeong Seok-yun, the director of Legal Advice and Litigation in the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “We’ve been constantly cooperating with the government on this.”

The city government also believes the ministry’s decision is overstepping the boundaries of the central government’s discretionary authority. When the central administrative agency cancels the work of a local autonomous entity, they are required to give specific and thorough reasons for the cancellation, but the government failed to do so.

“The termination of the youth program can give unemployed or underemployed young adults psychological or financial benefit, but the public benefit that will arise from shutting the program down is unclear,” said Jeong. “And that lack of clarity is exactly the reason why they are stepping out of line here.”

BY SEO JUN-SUK [lee.soowhan@joongang.co.kr]

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