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Flaws found in transition committe`s gov`t reorganization plan

Flaws found in transition committe`s gov`t reorganization plan

Posted February. 01, 2013 04:51,   


The planned government reorganization proposed by the presidential transition committee is showing more than a few flaws before its submission to the National Assembly for approval.

The plan involves the transfer of the tasks of international trade negotiations and trade policy coordination to the Commerce, Industry, Trade and Energy Ministry set for establishment under the incoming administration from the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry. If the commerce minister signs international trade pacts on behalf of the Korean government, this would violate an international convention.

According to the article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, only a head of state or government and a foreign ministers can represent his or her government without a letter of full powers. A bill on the government reorganization submitted to the National Assembly has a clause granting the signing authority to the commerce minister, but he or she is not qualified as a government representative. To avoid violating the convention, the commerce minister needs to undergo a complex bureaucratic procedure to get full powers every time an international trade pact needs signing.

In addition, the reorganization proposal ignores diplomatic protocol and disregards international diplomatic practices. Most countries, including Korea, have allowed only the foreign minister to sign external full powers, but the proposal has no clause allowing the foreign minister to sign full powers. So the president has to sign them for the commerce minister. In this case, the commerce minister would sign a trade deal with a letter of full powers signed by the president, while a partner country’s trade minister does so with a letter of full powers signed by a foreign minister.

The forthcoming Future, Creativity and Science Ministry is expected to wield considerable power under the next administration, so certain public organizations and think tanks will likely have to serve multiple bosses.

Under a revised law, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, or KAIST, has to seek consent from the Education Ministry and approval from the Future Ministry when KAIST makes changes to the articles of association or appoints its president or executive board members. The school must also submit its annual plan and report budget plans and settlements to both ministries. The state-funded National Research Foundation also needs approval from both ministries when attempting to conduct profit-making businesses.

The transition committee originally said it would put the Future Ministry in charge of promoting the broadcast industry and the Korea Communications Commission in charge of regulating it. The proposal submitted by the committee to parliament is different, however, giving the Future Ministry licensing authority for radio, satellite broadcasting and cable TV. Licensing falls under the regulatory category. The new ministry has the licensing rights to home shopping channels on cable TV, so the commission is left with only the authority to license general broadcast and news channels.

The Future Ministry would also be empowered to take disciplinary and corrective actions against broadcasters and fining them under the proposal.

Another maligned idea is to set up the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, which would also cause overlapping with the Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. For instance, if a rural village creates a farm for tourists, the Agriculture Ministry supervises the project, but similar projects done by fishing villages would be under the Maritime Affairs Ministry, potentially wasting taxpayers’ money for similar businesses.

Separately, the floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party will convene an extraordinary parliamentary session Monday after agreeing to form a bipartisan consultative body to resolve the labor dispute at Ssangyong Motors. They also agreed to deliberate the proposed government reorganization and revision of related laws on Feb. 14 and a motion for parliamentary consent to the nomination of the next prime minister on Feb. 26, the day after the new president’s inauguration. Both parties also agreed to form another consultative body to review the disputed proposal to revise a law on the taxi industry.