Ministry punts request for Oct. 4 cost estimate

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Ministry punts request for Oct. 4 cost estimate

The Unification Ministry’s answer to an inquiry from an opposition lawmaker about how much it would cost to carry out the Oct. 4 Declaration, the main product of the second inter-Korean summit in 2007, has caused controversy.

In its reply to Rep. Park Joo-sun of the Bareunmirae Party, who asked the ministry to provide a cost estimate to implement the agreement signed between then-President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the ministry in charge of handling inter-Korean relations said it “couldn’t find the estimate” because it has been so long since it was calculated, leaving the four-term lawmaker frustrated.

According to Park, the Unification Ministry told him it could not provide the cost estimate because it has been 11 years since the Oct. 4 declaration was issued.

“I repeatedly checked with a ministry official to confirm [the absence of the estimate]. The official told me the ministry didn’t have it.”

The lawmaker’s inquiry came as the Moon Jae-in government has been urging the National Assembly to ratify the Panmunjom Declaration signed between himself and North Korean leader Kim in their first summit meeting in the border village on April 27.

The government estimated that it would cost 471.2 billion won ($412.2 million) next year to implement that agreement, a figure the opposition refuted, saying the government low-balled the number.

The opposition demanded the government submit a total cost estimate to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, not just the costs for next year.

In the Panmunjom Declaration, the two leaders agreed to “actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 2007 October 4 Declaration, in order to promote balanced economic growth and co-prosperity of the nation.”

During a parliamentary audit in 2008, the Unification Ministry submitted its cost estimate for carrying out the Oct. 4 agreement. At the time, it forecast it would cost approximately 14.3 trillion won to carry out all the inter-Korean cooperation agreed to in the Oct.4 Declaration.

“At first, the ministry refused to give the estimate, saying it was calculated at the time in an unofficial manner without a verification process. But it changed its narrative later, saying it couldn’t find the data because it has been so long,” lamented the lawmaker, adding, “I am just speechless.”

“Such an estimate [for the 2007 agreement] is a very important reference point on which cost estimate for the Panmunjom Declaration will be based,” noted the lawmaker.

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