Antigraft law’s price ceilings will stay in place

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Antigraft law’s price ceilings will stay in place

The central government has agreed to keep the price ceilings for the upcoming antigraft law, dismissing numerous appeals to raise the standard in order to save industries that would be the hardest hit.

The latest decision to maintain the price ceilings was reached Monday during a meeting joined by 15 vice ministers and presided over by Lee Suk-joon, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination.

The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, dubbed the Kim Young-ran Law, will prohibit public officials, teachers and journalists from being treated to meals costing more than 30,000 ($27) won, accepting gifts over 50,000 won and receiving congratulatory or condolence payments worth more than 100,000 won.

The purpose of the act is “to ensure that public officials and relevant persons properly fulfill their duties and to secure public confidence in public institutions by forbidding improper solicitations to public officials and relevant persons and by prohibiting them from accepting financial or other advantages.”

Around 40,000 organizations in Korea are expected to be covered by the law. Violators will be imprisoned for a maximum of three years or fined up to 30 million won.

The ongoing debate as to whether the price ceilings should be raised was triggered after the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and also the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries argued that workers in the farming, fisheries and livestock industries will see their sales plummet the most because expensive holidays gifts are a key source of their profits.

The Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, which has been tasked to oversee the new policy, said Monday that the act will go through a test-run until 2018, and that any changes to the system can be made afterwards, if necessary.

It being a presidential decree, the Improper Solicitation and Graft Act can also be amended with the president’s consent at any time without approval from the National Assembly.

The bill, first submitted in 2011, saw slow progress but gained headwind following the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April 2014. The tragic deaths of more than 300 passengers shed new light on the corrupt relationship between Korean officials and companies in the private sector.

The new policy is scheduled to be officially signed off next Tuesday during a cabinet meeting and will go into effect on Sept. 28, just a few days after the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday, which falls between Sept. 14 and 18.


BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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