Go to Contents Go to Navigation

Seoul city council proclaims free lunch ordinance amid backlash

All Headlines 17:55 January 06, 2011

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- Seoul's city council proclaimed on Thursday an ordinance to provide free lunch to all elementary school students in the capital from the new semester, going against the policy of the city government.

Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon, a member of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP), and the council's opposition Democratic Party (DP) members have been in feud for months over the free lunch program, which was one of the DP's key campaign pledges in last year's local elections that picked governors, mayors and local council members.

The feud could delay all types of meal support for the needy, with the mayor's office claiming the city needs time to determine detailed spending plans. The deadline for finalizing the plans is the end of July.

Although the DP-controlled city council passed a 69.5 billion won (US$ 62 million) budget bill for free school meals last month, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has refused to proclaim the ordinance and missed the Tuesday deadline. The mayor's office accused the opposition of flaunting a populist welfare campaign and said it will not execute the budget as passed by the council.

Oh's office said it will also be seeking a court injunction to stop the execution of the budget.

Defying expected backlash, council chairman Heo Gwang-tae announced Thursday he was using his authority to proclaim the ordinance.

"We hope that the free lunch program will provide an opportunity for students to grow and receive education in a good environment," Heo said at a news conference, urging the Seoul Metropolitan Government to join the move.

The municipal ordinance calls for providing free lunch to all students at kindergarten, primary, middle and high schools in Seoul, starting first in elementary schools and expanding to middle schools next year.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!