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[Editorial] Transparent expenses

[Editorial] Transparent expenses

Oversight of state agencies should be strengthened

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Published : 2013-12-24 19:51
Updated : 2013-12-24 19:51

Officials at key judiciary, legislative and law enforcement institutions were recently found to have used money set aside to help them carry out work in an unclear and improper manner.

The national budget has annually earmarked a certain amount of money to cover expenses incurred in the process of implementing official duties related to investigation, inspection, taxation and other specific fields. This year, about 652 billion won ($614 million) was allocated for this purpose.

The state auditor last Friday announced the results of its recent inspection of 12 institutions, which showed that most of them had been opaque and unscrupulous in their spending. Among the organizations pointed out by the Board of Audit and Inspection for unprincipled payments were the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the secretariat of the National Assembly and the National Police Agency. For example, the Constitutional Court failed to account for about 60 percent of the 165 million won spent during the first quarter of this year.

Needless to say, civil servants should present details of expenses paid to help carry out their duties. Otherwise, they cannot but raise doubts about whether they have used their official allowances for private purposes. Officials at judiciary and legislative bodies are all the more obligated to abide by this rule as they should set an example for other public servants.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance asked state agencies in February to strengthen oversight of expenditures on specified activities. It is deplorable that the Constitutional Court and other judiciary and legislative institutions have ignored the request. This attitude may result from those organizations’ unjustified sense of privilege.

It was right for the BAI to have instructed the finance minister to reduce relevant budgets for the agencies that would not correct their malpractices. The state auditor may need to expand its inspection into all government institutions.

Corruption and lack of trust are cited as major stumbling blocks to the further advancement of Korean society beyond industrialization and democratization. Bringing greater transparency to accounting may be one of the simple but most effective and fundamental measures to eradicate the deep-rooted problems. Judiciary and legislative bodies are required to take the lead in this endeavor.

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