Budget bill feud holds back hearing

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 31, 2016 - 17:03
  • Updated : Aug 31, 2016 - 17:03

The political parties’ feuding over the government’s supplementary budget bill posed setbacks for a series of key parliamentary agendas Wednesday, including a ministerial confirmation hearing.

The parliamentary committee for education, culture, sports and tourism was forced to adjourn its confirmation hearing on Culture Minister nominee Cho Yoon-sun, due to a verbal battle triggered by the ruling Saenuri members.

Culture Minister nominee Cho Yoon-sun heads to her seat as the committee for education, culture, sports and tourism suffered delay at the National Assembly on Wednesday. Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald
The initial complaint came from Rep. Kwak Sang-do, who questioned the committee’s chairman Rep. Yoo Sung-yop’s integrity. They slammed him for letting the opposition vote in favor of a child care budget revision bill in the absence of ruling party members. Rep. Yoo is affiliated with the runner-up opposition People’s Party.

“The culture committee chairman violated the Constitution by altering the budget bill’s content without the consent of the Education Ministry and Culture Ministry,” said Rep. Kwak at the beginning of the hearing session.

The committee, in the absence of the objecting ruling party members, had voted in favor of a budget bill clause to draw up 600 billion won ($538 million) to cover for regional education debts Monday.

Other Saenuri members of the committee backed Kwak, claiming that chairman Yoo is not qualified to lead the hearing, with some demanding for his immediate resignation.

Yoo attempted to push ahead with the hearing, urging lawmakers to focus on assessing the minister nominee, but soon had to adjourn the session due to the aggravating verbal exchange.

The 10 a.m. meeting, which was delayed by 55 minutes, reached a deadlock in 40 minutes.

The session reopened in the afternoon but only opposition lawmakers were present, with Saenuri members boycotting it.

Minister nominee Cho, known to be close to President Park Geun-hye, has been facing a number of integrity disputes, including the way in which she had increased her assets. The opposition camp has asserted that she made some 2.7 billion won through real estate speculation.

The former lawyer and lawmaker reported 5.2 billion won ($4.66 million) in total property this year.

Meanwhile, tension continued among the rival parties over the 11 trillion won extra budget plan.

The three parties on Tuesday had failed to lay the bill to the full parliamentary floor as earlier agreed.

Their dissent was on the funds to support local governments and subsidies for South Korean firms which had to close their businesses in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex earlier this year.

Exerting pressure on the opposition resistance, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae reiterated its calls for prompt and timely passage of the budget bill.

“Timing is crucial for the extra budget plan, which is to address the (consequences) for the restructuring of major industries,” presidential spokesperson Jung Youn-kuk told reporters.

By Bae Hyun-jung (