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S. Korea: Lee to detail plans to reform electoral, administrative systems
Source: Korea Herald www.koreaherald.com
Source Date: Monday, November 15, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Korea (Republic of)
Created: Dec 16, 2010

President Lee Myung-bak said he will present this year the blueprints for his key political reform drives to reorganize the electoral and administrative systems.

The Lee administration has pledged to revamp the electoral system to root out regionalism and the administrative system to enhance efficiency. The nation has been politically divided for decades with the ruling Grand National Party often monopolizing votes in the southeastern Gyeongsang provinces and the Democratic Party in the southwestern Jeolla provinces.

“We’ve been planning them for a while behind the scenes, so we will give them more shape and unveil them within this year,” Lee was quoted as saying by the Dong-A Ilbo during an interview Sunday in Yokohama, Japan. Lee was attending the APEC summit there over the weekend.

“No one from the GNP gets elected in the Jeolla provinces and the DP can’t win a single seat in the Gyeongsang provinces. This kind of dominance is a problem.”

A presidential panel on social cohesion has been devising how to revise the current single-member constituency system, which they say tends to perpetuate regionalism by allowing a political party to monopolize a certain region.

Lee has also vowed to reorganize the nation’s administrative zones to reduce the amount of money and resources wasted by “redundant administration.”

“Our administrative system is a hundred years old, coming from a time when agriculture accounted for most of the nation’s economic output,” he said.

“We need to broaden the administrative boundaries to keep up with economic growth.”

The president also renewed his criticism against lawmakers’ abuse of their privilege to be exempt from liability for what they said in the National Assembly, referring to a recent accusation by an opposition assemblyman that the first lady was involved in a lobbying scandal.

“If legislators say something in the parliament where they are granted immunity, they should be confident enough to repeat it outside,” Lee said.

Rep. Kang Gi-jung of the DP claimed early this month that first lady Kim Yoon-ok pulled strings to get Nam Sang-tae reappointed as chief executive of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.

About the controversy over tax cuts, Lee said the policy direction, in principle, is to lower the tax rates and expand the source of tax revenue.

The governing GNP is in dispute over the planned tax cuts for the highest income and corporate tax brackets.

“Whether to further postpone the income and corporate tax cuts after 2013 can be decided later based on the economic conditions then,” Lee said.

“Readjustment of the timing doesn’t mean we no longer stick to the principle of lowering tax rates and widen the source of tax revenue.”

GNP factional leader Rep. Park Geun-hye said on Monday, however, that the current maximum income tax rate of 35 percent must be retained while the maximum corporate tax rate should be lowered as planned.

Park, who leads a third of GNP legislators, said the 35 percent income tax rate for those who earn more than 88 million won a year should be kept to help ease the income gap that widened with the global financial crisis.

“Because businesses have already made investment plans based on the planned corporate tax cuts, they should proceed as scheduled to maintain consistency of government policy and help create jobs,” she said.

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