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Presidential office aims to minimize impact from Cabinet vacuum

Senior secretaries to President Park Geun-hye will meet every morning to tackle pressing issues in an effort to minimize any negative impact the absence of a new Cabinet could have on state affairs, the presidential spokesman said Wednesday.

Presidential chief of staff Huh Tae-yeol will preside over the session to check the day-to-day operations of the government, presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said. Senior secretaries reached the decision in a meeting Wednesday, viewing the Cabinet's absence as an "emergency situation," he said.

Park took office last week but still has no Cabinet of her own, as her ministerial nominations and her government reorganization bill are still pending in parliament. The situation has raised concern the new government would be forced into a "vegetative" state should the impasse be prolonged.

"We have determined that the delay in passage of the government reorganization bill and the confirmation process for minister nominees are hampering a normal operation of the government," Yoon said during a press briefing.

"We decided to make the best effort to minimize any vacuum in state affairs," he said. 

Presidential secretaries will take responsibility for handling any pending issues at government ministries of their areas until ministers take office after the parliamentary confirmation process, the spokesman said.

In Wednesday's meeting, senior secretaries agreed to study thorough measures to prevent safety-related accidents, such as a gas leak in the central city of Gumi. Nearly 200 people have received medical attention after a chlorine gas leak from a chemical factory on Tuesday.

Yoon also said that the government will launch a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent schemes and other financial crimes preying on working-class people. The Supreme Prosecutors' Office will carry out a first round of crackdowns together with other law enforcement agencies until June, he said.

Park instructed Yoo Jeong-bok, the nominee for safety and home affairs minister, to visit the site of the chemical leak in Gumi and come up with fundamental measures to prevent such accidents, her spokeswoman Kim Haing said. (Yonhap News)
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