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(LEAD) Parties agree to abolish special activity funds amid criticism

All News 11:45 August 13, 2018

(ATTN: CLARIFIES lead; UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- Rival political parties agreed Monday to scrap controversial special activity funds for lawmakers, amid criticism that the money has been spent without proper oversight.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) reversed their earlier stances of keeping the funds intact, joining smaller opposition parties that called for abolishing the funds.

Last week, the two largest parties agreed to manage the funds more transparently and disclose the receipts, but faced fierce criticism that those measures fall short of public demands for reform.

"The ruling and opposition parties agreed to completely abolish the funds," Hong Young-pyo, the floor leader of the DP, said at the start of a meeting with speaker Moon Hee-sang and party floor leaders.

Criticism sharply rose after a local civic group disclosed data in July showing that the National Assembly provided ranking lawmakers, including party floor leaders, with up to 60 million won (US$53,641) every month in the name of special activity funds.

Critics said that the funds have been spent without any oversight as no receipts are required to prove they were properly used, calling for scrapping them as it is a waste of taxpayer money.

This year, the budget on special activity funds is known to be set at some 6 billion won, down about 1.9 billion from the previous year.

This photo, taken on Aug. 13, 2018, shows National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang (2nd from L) and the floor leaders of ruling and opposition parties. (Yonhap)


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