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(EDITORIAL from Korea Herald on Nov. 18)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:08 November 18, 2022

Majority party's tyranny
: None of 77 government-proposed bills pass National Assembly

The Yoon Suk-yeol administration proposed a total of 77 bills in the six months since its inauguration on May 10. None of them have passed the National Assembly. The opposition Democratic Party of Korea, with its 169-seat majority in the 300-seat National Assembly has put a brake on them. This is a legislative tyranny.

The Yoon administration revised 19 tax codes to reduce the tax burden on the people and invigorate the private economy, and submitted them to the Assembly. But the Democratic Party opposes them, arguing that tax cuts only benefit the rich. It turns a blind eye to problems of heavy taxes and the positive effects of reducing taxes.
As a result, Korean companies still pay higher corporate taxes than foreign competitors. Also as many as 1.2 million homeowners are scheduled to receive punitive comprehensive real estate tax bills even though housing prices plummeted.

The "K-Chips Law," a special law to support domestic semiconductor industry, was proposed in August, but the party stopped its legislative process, arguing it favors chaebol.

The National Assembly is currently examining the Yoon administration's first budget proposal. The Democratic Party is said to be curtailing sharply or eliminating appropriations related to Yoon's campaign pledges and his government's important policies in budget subcommittees or standing committees of the Assembly, while creating or increasing budgets related to the party's policies and its leader Lee Jae-myung's pledges.

The Democratic Party reduced the budget needed to operate Cheong Wa Dae, the former presidential office and residence, as an open space for the public, by 5.95 billion won ($4.44 million). It eliminated the 30.3 billion won budget to create Yongsan Park on the former US military base in Yongsan, Seoul, and the 49.7 billion won budget to build a presidential guest house. It removed all of 603 million won the government requested to operate the newly created police bureau within the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.

Instead, the Democratic Party created a 705 billion won budget to hand out regional currency, which is one of Lee's major policies to help small businesses.

To make matters worse, it is strongly pushing populist bills that will cost the government dearly.

If a bill proposed by a National Assembly member is expected to require tax expenditures to be enforced, the National Assembly Budget Office estimates the amount beforehand. The number of bills proposed by legislators for six months from the beginning of the current administration and expected to cost the government more than 1 trillion won for the first five years of enforcement is 87, according to a media's analysis of the office's cost estimations, and 52 of them were proposed by the Democratic Party. The Korean presidential term is five years.

A bill to amend the basic pension act raises the basic pension benefit seniors receive each month from 300,000 won to 400,000 won. The bill requires 6.4 trillion won on average a year and 32 trillion won for the first five years of enforcement.

An amendment of the youth basic act gives an allowance of 100,000 to 200,000 won each month to every young Korean who earns below a certain level. The National Assembly Budget Office estimates the bill to cost the government 25 trillion won to 50 trillion won over the course of five years.

A bill to revise the national health insurance act removes the current time limit on the government's financial support for the national health insurance fund, which is to expire at the end of this year, and makes the government support indefinite. The bill is expected to require 19.4 trillion won to 71.8 trillion won over five years.

An amendment of the grain management act obligates the government to purchase all overproduced rice. The budget office has not calculated how much tax the bill requires, but the government estimates that a fiscal injection of 1 trillion won would be needed each year.

The party has no intention of spending taxpayer money sparingly. It just thinks how to splurge to curry favor with voters.
(END)

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