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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Nov. 17)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:08 November 17, 2022

Who's the boss here?

The Democratic Party (DP), with a supermajority in the National Assembly, continues slashing next year's budgets proposed by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration. Most of the cuts target Yoon's campaign promises and national agenda items he has been pushing. Over the relocation of the presidential office to Yongsan, for instance, the DP already rejected the 5.9 billion won (US$4.5 million) needed to renovate the past Blue House for public purposes and another 2.1 billion won requested by the Foreign Ministry to expand diplomatic networks overseas. The DP also threatened to downsize the funding required to construct a new presidential guesthouse and to open the Yongsan Park to the public.

The DP wants to cut as much as 100 billion won from budget proposals for 2023. The cuts are even applied to expenses needed to operate new government organizations. For instance, the DP did not endorse funding needed to operate a new department in the Justice Ministry to screen candidate qualifications for top government posts, not to mention the money for investigations on four major crimes by the prosecution. We are dumbfounded at the haughty attitude of the DP toward budget proposals by the government.

But the DP is bent on expanding the size of budgets needed to implement populist programs championed by its head Lee Jae-myung, the former presidential candidate defeated by Yoon in the last election in March. For example, the DP revived Lee's campaign promise to issue local currencies worth a whopping 705 billion won. On Wednesday, Lee said his party will add 1.2 trillion won for the disadvantaged, including mom-and-pop stores, to next year's budget. If the DP pushes them all, the total amount exceeds 3 trillion won. We wonder who's the boss here.

Increasing budgets is impossible without consent from the government under the Constitution. So the DP must negotiate with the People Power Party (PPP). However, as the PPP is a minority in the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts, a tough battle is expected over next year's budget. The PPP must draw up a wise strategy. But it only attacked the DP for putting the brakes on the government. As the launch of related subcommittees was delayed due to the PPP's complacency, the governing party could not even discuss ways to lower taxes for corporations and individual investors as Yoon promised.

If both parties are engaged in a head-on-head clash until the end of December, the next year's budget must follow this year's, which is unprecedented. None of the Yoon administration's budget proposals has passed since its launch in May. The DP's arrogance continues, but the PPP does not know the buck stops there.
(END)

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