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Agency mulled to coordinate state projects

A presidential advisory panel is seeking to establish an independent state agency to handle regional and interclass conflicts over state projects.

A slew of state projects pursued by the Lee Myung-bak administration engendered confusion and contention in different regions as their locations were undisclosed until three and a half years into his term. They include plans to develop a hub for high-tech research and education, to build a new international airport and divisions of the Korea Land and Housing Corp.

Benchmarking the French Commission Nationale du Debate Public, the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion is pushing to set up a similar panel to arrange dialogue among interested parties on state ventures.

The CNDP, launched in 1997, has been acclaimed for bringing successful resolutions to about 100 cases of conflict including the construction of an express railway to and from Charles de Gaulle airport.

Song Suk-ku, chief of the presidential committee, said he aims to draw up a related bill by December, according to Yonhap news agency.

The plan is to make the panel independent, not affiliated with any government agencies, like the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.

Song’s committee also began working-level meetings to overhaul the government system for assistance to defectors from North Korea.

As the first step, the existing state council for the support of North Korean defectors, headed by the vice minister of unification, will be upgraded to a panel chaired by the prime minister, and more local administrations will be entrusted with the job of assisting defectors’ settlement here.

The second step will be setting up a government agency exclusively backing the North Korean defectors’ settlement and social cohesion.

Song is also pushing for an interfaith declaration of peace by the leaders of the seven religious orders in Korea at the year end.

The committee on Wednesday held the first session of a “Communications Academy,” a series of public lectures by professionals including a journalist, a lawyer and a poet, and is scheduled to begin a tour of symposiums Thursday on “ecosystemic development.”

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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