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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Sept. 9)

All News 07:14 September 09, 2016

Preparing for change
Detailed guidelines needed to enforce anti-graft law

The nation is now ready to implement the so-called "Kim Young-ran Act" starting Sept. 28 as the government has approved the enforcement decree for the radical anti-graft law.

The law sets the upper limits of foods, gifts and congratulatory or condolence money that public officials, including government officials, journalists and private school teachers, can receive at 30,000 won ($26), 50,000 won and 100,000 won, respectively.

It also bans a public official from receiving or demanding from the same person money or other benefits worth more than 1 million won in one instance or 3 million won in aggregate during one fiscal year, irrespective of whether the payment or provision of money or other benefits was related to his/her duties. A violation of the ban will be punished by imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 30 million won.

The tough law was originally intended to curb corruption among high-level public officials. But in the legislative process, its scope of application was expanded to include journalists and private school faculty members.

As a result, the law will apply to as many as 4 million people at more than 40,000 organizations.

As the number of people subject to the draconian law is so large, the law is expected to bring about sweeping changes to diverse dimensions of social life.

The strict law embodies people's long-cherished desire to make Korea a clean society. Korea needs to improve transparency in all sectors of society to become an advanced country. In this regard, the law needs to be strictly implemented.

Yet the law still has many ambiguities that could be interpreted arbitrarily. To avoid confusion over its complicated clauses, the government needs to produce and distribute more detailed implementation guidelines.

Institutions that are subject to the law also need to be well-informed of the regulations it introduces not to breach them inadvertently.

The government also needs to take action to minimize the negative impact that the law is expected to have on the economy. Farmers and livestock growers are complaining that their business has slowed even before the law goes into effect.

The Korea Economic Research Institute has estimated that the economic losses arising from the law would amount to 11.6 trillion won a year.

If domestic consumption contracts to such a degree, it would deal a serious blow to an already sluggish economy. The government needs to speed up the disbursement of the 11 trillion-won extra budget to prevent the economy from sinking further.

It also needs to prepare measures to provide support to negatively affected industries and companies.

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