In the past three years, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security has requested 140.9 billion won ($127 million) in budget related to earthquakes, but only 5 percent was implemented, a lawmaker said Monday.
Rep. Song Young-gil of The Minjoo Party of Korea said that after analyzing the reports by the relevant ministries, most of the budget requests for preparatory measures, such as expanding aseismic designs, have been denied.
For the budget between 2015 and 2017, the MPSS requested 51.3 billion won, 69.9 billion won and 19.7 billion won, respectively, to undertake various preparatory measures. The requests for 2015 and 2016 were denied completely, while 1.2 billion won was set aside for 2017, Song said.
Song also said that they have heard from earthquake-related officials that they had a hard time persuading the need to maintain the earthquake division under the Disaster Management Office when establishing the MPSS in 2014. These officials also reportedly claimed to have heard from the government that it would be “more economical” to subsidize the cost for damage repair rather than investing in preparatory measures.
Gyeongju city officials on Sept. 18 work on covering damaged roofs of houses with nets and tents after the area suffered a 5.8 magnitude earthquake the previous week. (Yonhap)
“Safety measures without due personnel and budget are impossible. While the Park administration changed the names of relevant ministries numerous times upon the Sewol ferry sinking disaster (in 2014), no safety has been maintained,” Song said.
Earlier this month, the country’s strongest recorded quake rattled Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, and the surrounding regions.
The government later designated the city as a special disaster zone to help the estimated damage speculated to reach more than 7.5 billion won. Nearly 100 cases of damage have been found on historical artifacts.
“Now the budget estimated by the MPSS to implement earthquake preparatory measures reaches over 84 billion won. We could not even confirm the budget needed by organizations such as the Cultural Heritage Administration that manages our cultural assets,” Song said. (firstname.lastname@example.org)