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Korea to expand safety budget

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Published : 2014-05-01 20:31
Updated : 2014-05-01 20:31

President Park Geun-hye on Thursday ordered officials to prioritize the budget review and allocation on measures to improve national safety, stressing an immediate need to transform the country’s entire safety system in the wake of the deadly sinking of the Sewol.

“Each ministry and agency should strictly reexamine all its budgets and projects related to safety affairs,” Park said during a meeting with ministers held to discuss national fiscal strategy.

“The budget needed to change the nation’s safety system should be prioritized and (the ministries) should give prior support for related personnel,” she said.

Her comment came after she apologized for the government’s failure in the ferry disaster and vowed to revamp the country’s safety system Tuesday. The president also proposed launching a new ministry on safety affairs under the Prime Minister’s Office to prevent and better deal with disasters in the future.

During the meeting Thursday, the president also instructed officials to create a detailed manual to offer timely financial support to victims of disasters and help officials take prompt action in case of a national emergency.

The president stressed that more funds should be spent on measures to prevent disasters. Also, there should be an intensive investment not only in building safer facilities or visual instruments but also in training professionals on crisis management and creating a state-of-the-art safety management system. A budget should be created to maintain and repair existing facilities, she added.

The president also addressed the need to maintain fiscal stability, citing ongoing problems faced by the country.

“We have to pay particular attention to keeping fiscal sustainability from now on, considering a (projected) increase in welfare expenditure along with the aging population and the possibility of instability in North Korea,” she said.

Park ordered the officials to carefully carry out the budget execution and not to waste taxpayers’ money. She brought up a story of a Sewol victim’s parents who refused to use expensive items for their son’s funeral that was paid by the taxpayers.

“We cannot waste even a single sheet of paper when thinking of people who insisted on saving a penny.”

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

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