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Saenuri Party to push for gov't organizational restructuring in Jan.

All Headlines 12:00 December 21, 2012

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Saenuri Party said Friday that it will call for an extra session of parliament in January to push forward organizational changes in government to reflect campaign pledges made by President-elect Park Geun-hye.

Floor leader Lee Hahn-koo told Yonhap News Agency that the presidential transition team, which is expected to be set up shortly, will prepare for the changes.

"The process should take place after mid January," the lawmaker said, adding that there will be a reshuffling of authority and offices of existing government organizations so new ministries can be created.

In 2008 when the present Lee Myung-bak administration took power, a bill permitting the reorganization of the government was passed by parliament just a few days before the new chief executive took office.

Park, who won Wednesday's poll by earning 51.6 percent of the 30.7 million ballots cast, promised to reestablish the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and a new ministry that will take charge of the country's science and technology sector.

The maritime and science ministries had existed in the past.

The science ministry will aim to support future-oriented research and establish long-term government policies that can allow the country to best meet future demand. It will also create a knowledge-based environment to foster meaningful development of the sector that can act as an economic growth engine. The new ministry is expected to absorb some of the functions held by the current Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry will be tasked with coordinating government policies in regards to all maritime matters and absorb functions presently exercised by the Ministry of Land, Transport and the Maritime Affairs and Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Besides these two ministries, Park and Saenuri are looking to create an agency that will oversee information and communications-related policies to help create a stable ecosystem for the development of digital content, platforms, network technologies and devices. In the past, the country had a Ministry of Information and Communication.

"The organization to oversee information and communications may not be a ministerial-level agency, with the presidential transition team planning to look into details of how this should be set up," said a party insider.

The ruling party, meanwhile, said solid action will be taken to ensure that Park's campaign pledges are carried out.

"Measures will be taken to move forward on policies that can enhance welfare and improve livelihoods of the people," said Lee, the floor leader.

He said to meet pledges made by the president-elect and by the party in the last parliamentary election in April, about 6 trillion won (US$5.57 billion) needs to be set aside. This includes 4.3 trillion won needed to help small-time merchants and stabilize the real estate market and construction sectors.

"Priority will be given to cutting unnecessary expenditure from the 2013 budget," he said. Lee, however, stressed that if the need arises, the party will accept a budget deficit and even the issuance of state bonds to make up any shortfalls.

Ruling and opposition parties plan to pass the government budget by the end of next week.

On the possibility of asking the National Assembly for a supplementary budget to cover increased welfare outlays, the party official said such a decision should be made after the new president takes office in late February.

The senior official, in addition, said the party will strive to reform the political establishment and keep its promises so as to restore the public's trust in the country's leadership.


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