Cheong Wa Dae will push to start the construction of new office buildings for all 80 public corporations within the year, officials said Sunday.
The move is meant to spur sluggish local development by moving Seoul-based public organizations to provinces.
“Though the construction schedule of the office buildings has so far been delayed due to the merger of some organizations and doldrums in real estate market, we will accelerate the project from now,” said a Cheong Wa Dae official in its newsletter.
“Our initial plan is to break ground for 80 public offices by the end of the year. We will stick to it.”
He said that the government will induce more local builders to bid for the project to construct new office buildings in an effort to boost provincial construction industries.
The massive relocation project was launched in 2007 under the Roh Moo-hyun administration in an attempt to achieve balanced regional growth.
The project calls for moving 157 public offices and corporations to Sejong City and so-called innovation cities by 2012, but has so far made little progress, mostly due to the prolonged setback of the real estate market.
Because of the real estate slump, most public corporations have failed to sell their existing sites and buildings in the metropolitan area, so they are short of the funds necessary to secure new sites and construct new buildings. Furthermore, the organizations and their employees are largely reluctant to move out of metropolitan areas.
The government has recently added momentum to the project.
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik urged ministries in a Cabinet meeting last month to speed up the relocation of public organizations.
“We only have a year and half left until the completion of the transfer, but 21 corporations are yet to acquire a site and nine to break ground,” the prime minister said.
Also, the Land Ministry and the presidential committee on regional development summoned vice presidents of 157 public organizations slated to move to innovation cities.
President Lee Myung-bak himself recently demanded that the Cabinet pay keener attention to the project, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials.
The government’s sudden spur followed its recent failures in several other similar projects drawn up to boost provincial development.
The decision in March to ditch an international airport construction plan in the southeastern part of the country prompted anger from residents there, especially as the airport was one of the president’s main election campaign pledges.
The Lee administration has also faced regional conflicts over the location of the science belt and the consolidated Korea Land and Housing Corporation.
The move of public corporations to provinces has become the last opportunity for the administration to fulfill its earlier pledges of achieving balanced growth among regions and winning over local voters.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com