Questions About Public Funds

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Questions About Public Funds

The ruling party and the opposition have agreed to conduct a parliamentary inspection into public funds. So far, public funds have been managed recklessly, as if pouring water into a bottomless pit, thus imposing a heavy burden on the economy and irking the public. Along with a thorough inquiry into related policies, it should be determined who is to be held accountable.

Since the IMF bailouts in late 1997, a total of 19.6 trillion won has been injected to redress financial insolvency. Although this is larger than next year''s budget, it has not alleviated financial anxiety and an additional 40 trillion won is called for. Some people even point out that a third and fourth public fund might be required with the recent bankruptcy of Daewoo Motor Co. and the shakiness of Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co.

The public is more furious over lax morals on the part of financial institutions and companies subsisting on taxpayers'' money. The Hanvit Bank has been involved in a fraud case in which politicians are suspected to have had a hand. Dong Ah Construction created and distributed a huge political fund. The owners of some companies in the process of working out their debts have wasted taxpayers'' money. There is a rumor that some financial institutions splurged on huge retirement payments.

What did the government do? Very little except try to collect more money, it seems. The government has put forth a white paper, but public suspicion is still strong.

We have many questions. Was the policy judgment to provide public funds right? Have the funds been administered transparently and fairly? How prevalent was moral hazard in financial institutions and companies? How much injected money can be recovered? We are also curious as to whether there was no problem with selling the Korea First Bank for 50 million won after pouring in 12 trillion won.

Public funds must be created and administered at the right time and in the right place. The upcoming parliamentary inspection should focus on these aspects.

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