The Seoul Metropolitan Government has called on the Park Geun-hye administration to increase its budget for the Seoul Metro system and the city’s welfare services for children.
Mayor Park Won-soon attended a meeting held by the Finance Ministry on Tuesday and asked for some 80 billion won ($76 million) for the next four years for the maintenance of Seoul Metro Lines 1-4.
The request came about a month after a Seoul subway train rear-ended another at Sangwangsimni Station, injuring more than 200 passengers.
The city also asked for 38.6 billion won ($37.9 million) for its welfare programs for children to cope with the rising number of abandoned children.
Seoul City is currently 80 percent financially independent, which is the highest rate of all regional governments in Korea. This means the city is getting the least financial support from the central government, the city noted.
In 2004, the central government spent 9.39 percent of its total budget on Seoul. The Park administration set aside only 6.9 percent for the city this year, the Seoul government said.
The city government last year faced a series of conflicts with the central government regarding its budget for day care services.
The Park Geun-hye administration in January announced a 15 percent budget increase for day care centers nationwide, targeting newborns to 5-year-olds. As a result, the regional governments, including Seoul’s, saved some 347.3 billion won.
“I still think the central government should be the one in charge of the universal welfare programs,” Mayor Park said in a press conference in Seoul on Tuesday.
“In order for the citizens to really feel that they are benefiting from (the welfare programs), the central government should give regional governments more financial authority.”
Park, who belongs to the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, defeated Saenuri candidate Chung Mong-joon last week. His second term starts next month.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)