Audit with no room for suspicionOn Wednesday, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) designated 35 areas to look into, including on the late purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and the rush to renewable energy under the Moon Jae-in administration. The government watchdog also plans to investigate the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, the Korea Communications Commission and the National Election Commission for possible mistakes they committed.
The BAI often tries to find — and correct — any wrongdoings by the previous administration. The BAI under the Moon administration was no different. In the latter half of the liberal government, however, the BAI was not doing its job as earnestly as before, as seen by deepening public suspicion about the role of the agency. Therefore, the watchdog’s decision to look into possible problems in diverse government institutions this time seems unavoidable.
For instance, the suspicion involves the Moon administration’s incomprehensible delay in purchasing Covid vaccines. While advanced countries were engrossed with pre-purchasing vaccines in 2020, the government was still busy bragging about so-called “K-quarantine.” The BAI must find out what kind of communications went back and forth among the Blue House, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) amid the crisis.
The stampede to renewable energy out of the blue also needs explanations. Last October, the 2050 Carbon Neutrality Commission under President Moon suddenly declared the government will reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 2018 levels and increase the share of renewable energy to 30.2 percent. But questions remain over whether the commission reached the decision after sufficient discussions with related ministries and industries, not to mention public consensus.
Another controversy involves the alleged manipulation of data by the Statistics Office, which led to the resignation of its head, and the liberal administration’s hefty subsidy for non-profit organizations, including a civic group that helped former wartime sex slaves but ended up with accounting frauds.
The BAI must reach conclusions after following appropriate procedures based on facts, not political motivations. It must refrain from excessive inspections of public entities to meet demands from political circles. The new head of BAI has already disappointed people by saying that it is a government body to support the president’s governance.
The BAI must not forget that it is a Constitutional organ free from government pressure although it is placed under the office of the president. It must avoid any dubious audits in finding the truth behind decision-making process in the government. The watchdog must reach conclusions that cannot be reversed by next administrations.