President-elect Park unveils a government reorganization plan calling for the creation of a ministry of science, technology & ICT
President-elect Park Geun-hye and her Transition Committee members,
including Committee Chairman Kim Yong-joon, clap as they attend a board-hanging
ceremony to inaugurate the committee at the Korea Banking Institute in Seoul on Jan. 6.
President-elect Park Geun-hye’s government reorganization scheme gives a glimpse into what so-called Geun-hyenomics will be like.
President-elect Park will take office on Feb. 25 with the daunting task of turning around the sagging economy amidst the global recession. The tenets of Geun-hyenomics is summarized as putting capitalism on the right track, ensuring a fair market economy, caring for the underprivileged of society through welfare programs tailored to meet their needs, and a more creative economy, spearheaded by policies focusing on science, technology and IT, as well as job creation.
True to President-elect Park’s campaign pledges, the reorganization plan of the soon-to-be government features the creation of a super-ministry in charge of science, technology, information, and communications technology (ICT). The ministry will create the post of vice minister exclusively charged with ICT affairs.
The plan also features the reviving of the post of deputy prime minister for economic affairs, which will serve as the new government’s control tower for economic policies. The transition committee said the minister of strategy and finance would assume the post of deputy prime minister for economic affairs.
President-elect Park Geun-hye (center) presides over her Transition Committee's first staff
meeting at the Korea Banking Institute in Seoul on Jan. 7 as Committee Chairman
Kim Yong-joon (left) and Vice Chairman Jin Young of the Saenuri Party looks on.
President-elect Park tapped Kim to be the prime minister of the new government.
President-elect Park told her transition committee at their first meeting at the Korea Banking Institute in Seoul on Jan. 7, “Our learned lessons are that whatever better polices there are, each government agency’s partitioning would waste taxpayers’ money and lower efficiency.” She indicated her willingness to create a control tower for polices among ministries to ensure seamless communication and prevent overlapping policies.
The post of deputy prime minister for economic affairs dates back to the government of former president Park Chung Hee, President-elect Park’s father, who appointed an economic planning minister who was also deputy prime minister to serve as the control tower for economic policies to push ahead with the five-year economic development plan that drove the nation from the ashes of the Korean War to the “Miracle of the Han River.”
The revival of the post of economic deputy prime minister, which was abolished by the outgoing Lee Myung-bak government, might be a brainchild of former government officials who once held posts related to economic planning and played roles during Park's campaign team, political analysts said. Rep. Ryu Sung-gul, chief of the first economic subcommittee of the transition committee, and Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, former MKE minister and one of Park's close confidants, served as posts under the now-defunct Ministry of Economic Planning. Among the new power elite group are those who graduated from University of Winsconsin, or served for state-run research institutes, the former Daewoo Business Group and studied at Sogang University as well as ex-government officials with the now-defunct Finance Ministry.
Rep. Ryu Sung-gul, chief of the 1st economic subcommittee of the
Transition Committee, talks with reporters following his nomination.
The new government has chosen a course to go big: the central government with a structure of 17 ministries, three agencies, and 17 administrator’s offices, a departure from the outgoing Lee Myung-bak’s government’s structure of 15 ministries, two agencies, and 18 administrator’s offices. President Lee’s government has been criticized for putting the science sector in the back seat, as it abolished the former science and technology ministry and turned its duties over to the education ministry.
Other changes include the transfer of supervision of the Korea Food and Drug Administration, which is now under control of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, to the Prime Minister’s Office, but its status will be subsequently promoted to a lower ministry-level one.
The Office of Minister of Special Affairs will be scrapped while the Ministry of Knowledge Economy will be changed to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy, which will take over trade affairs from the current Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Safety will be renamed the Ministry of Safety and Public Administration to attach priority on safety, and the Coast Guard will be placed under the new Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries Affairs.
Rep. Lee Hun-jae, chief of the 2nd economic subcommittee of the Transition
Committee, poses with President-elect Park following his nomination.
“The government reorganization plan is President-elect Park’s policy philosophy and willingness for public safety and economic turnaround to usher in an era of people’s happiness,” said Kim Yong-joon, chairman of the transition committee, at a news conference on Jan. 15.
The revamping of the government is based on three principles: minimizing changes by only reinventing what absolutely needs to be changed; realizing the people’s safety and economic prosperity; and stressing professionalism and integration, said Yoo Min-bong, chief in charge of planning and coordination of state affairs of the transition committee.
The government reorganization plan requires approval from the National Assembly. The new structure is the first step for the soon-to-be Park Geun-hye government.
President-elect Park tapped Chairman Kim Yong-joon of the Transition Committee to be the first prime minister for the new government.
The prime minister-designate took the helm at the Constitutional Court in 1994, served as a co-chairperson of Park’s campaign team for the Dec. 19 presidential election before being appointed to be the chairman of the Transition Committee last month. A confirmation hearing for Kim’s nomination is to be held soon for parliamentary approval.
Besides the broad layout, the transition committee is also considering a major shake-up of the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, and other smaller offices under the ministries, which could lead to a cut in the number of government officials.
In return, President-elect Park is more likely to give more leeway to the prime minister as well as ministers of the new government than have previous governments, political analysts and pundits said.
Kang Suk-hoon, chief of the state affairs planning & coordination
subcommittee of the Transition Committee, chats with
reporters on the operation of the subcommittee.
They agreed that President-elect Park’s reorganization scheme is much different from the outgoing President Lee government as it turns in the direction of economic policies, core projects, and the roles of government bodies, including Cheong Wa Dae and ministries.
A case in point is President-elect Park’s attaching priority to nurturing SMEs, which account for 99 percent of the nation’s total companies and 88 percent of the nation’s total employees.
According to the reorganization plan of the new government, the Small and Medium Business Administration (SMBA) will be expanded to take over policies on SMEs and the development of special regional zones from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. As a result, the revamped SMBA will provide systematic support to nurture strong small and medium-sized enterprises into strong medium and large-sized companies.
President-elect Park’s transition committee chose the SMBA as the first of the government ministries and other offices to give policy briefings.
The transition committee has been inaugurated as a slimmer organization from the outgoing government, but members and mostly comprised of experts specializing in their field of focus. They include Rep. Lee Jung-hyun of the Saenuri Party, chief in charge of state affairs; former defense minister Kim Jang-soo, chief in charge of diplomatic and commerce affairs; Rep. Lee Hun-jae, chief of the 2nd economic subcommittee,;and Seoul Arts Center President Mo Chul-min, chief in charge of women, education, and culture.
Seoul Arts Center President Mo Chul-min (front row, second from left),
chief in charge of women, and culture, smiles while attending a Transition Committee meeting.
But the abrupt resignation of Choi Dae-seok, one of the three key players in the transition team’s diplomacy-security division, has left the transition committee under fire for its secretive operation. Neither Park nor her spokespersons would comment on that matter, so speculation has been rampant on the reason for his resignation. One report says that Choi, one of Park’s advisors favoring the thawing of the outgoing government’s strict North Korean policies, had a recent clandestine meeting with North Korean officials while staying in China.
President-elect Park’s transition committee also has had skirmishes over the implementation of her campaign pledges with even senior ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers, including Rep. Chung Mong-joon, who have proposed reconsideration of parts of President-elect Park’s public pledges on welfare made during her campaign. In particular, the proposed introduction of a basic pension for senior citizens has come to a head. Rep. Chung later backed down from his initial remarks and recapped them as his intent on attaching priority.
KAIST Prof. Jang Soon-hong (right), chief in charge of education, science and t
echnology at the Transition Committee, chats with Kang Suk-hoon (left, standing),
chief of the state affairs planning & coordination subcommittee.
Some conservatives and experts claim that one of the changes facing the new government is how to carry out over 200 campaign promises she made that would cost 130 trillion won without raising taxes or relying on increased growth.
President-elect Park Geun-hye talks with her campaign leader and former
Saenuri lawmaker Kim Moo-sung after she appointed him to head a team of special envoys to China.
In return, Kim, chairman of the transition committee, lambasted the ruling party lawmakers’ remarks surrounding the implementation of President-elect Park’s campaign promises, saying that it is outrageous to utter absurd remarks such as the abolishing of public pledges even before the new government is sworn in. The reality is how President-elect Park, recognized as the incarnation of making good on promises, will cope with mounting demands on welfare, given conditions of a propensity for low economic growth, as she pledged during her campaign.