A dangerous idea

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A dangerous idea

How could this half-baked idea come from the Blue House? In Monday’s emergency meeting to discuss policies to root out corruption, President Moon Jae-in ordered government ministers to come up with systems that can check changes in property ownership of all civil servants from the moment of their appointment. Who proposed such a totalitarian idea is not known. But if the idea is implemented, that will be another policy failure of the liberal administration.

First of all, the idea lacks any substance. If you look at the 2021 registered assets of senior government officials, you can only see how much wealth they have. In other words, the mandatory disclosure of their real estate holdings is nothing but an stunt. If the government really wants to control their investment activities, it is more effective to closely monitor public servants handling real estate policy. More precisely, if the government could devise an elaborate mechanism to prevent Korea Land and Housing Corporation employees from purchasing land on the basis of inside information, that would be even better.

The Blue House’s approach translates into treating 1.37 million civil servants and employees at public corporations as potential criminals. A majority of those in the lower hierarchy are presumed to have average levels of assets. After Moon’s far-fetched order, an internet community of students preparing for civil servant examinations are fuming at him. “Does that mean my 300,000-won ($264) deposit in my bank account also should be exposed?” complained one.

Moreover, registration of all assets of 1.37 million government employees requires a humongous budget and manpower. That’s a sheer waste of the people’s tax money and the government’s administrative power. If the government pursues the dangerous plan, assets of nearly 6 million citizens will be on the radar of government oversight when civil servants’ families are included. The government even plans to set up an agency to keep track of property trading, which is an extremely dangerous idea.

We also wonder if the government seriously reviewed its proposal for a 70 percent tax if people sell their properties less than one year after purchasing them. Moon himself provoked controversy after changing the use of the land he bought for his post-retirement life in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang, from farming to construction. Thanks to the move, he allegedly earned 350 million won in profit. Lee Hae-chan, former chairman of the ruling party, reportedly saw the price of land he purchased in Sejong city for farming quadruple. The government’s 25 attempts at a real estate policy have failed. It should take a course in market principles.
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