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There are some lawmakers that disappointed citizens from the beginning of the New Year. In addition to passing the appropriation bill after the year is over, the nine lawmakers of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts left for a touristic overseas business trip the very next day. Although they apologized for their untimely and causeless trip, the problem of touristic overseas business trips doesn’t seem to get improved at all.

 

<Source: Naver Encyclopedia / The above image has no relevance with the article>

 

  In 2011, the Center for Freedom of Information (CFOI) requested information disclosure about overseas business trips of lawmakers. Having looked at reports submitted after business trips, the majority of the reports made it difficult to believe that the schedules they carried out are related to public duties. Moreover National Assembly Speaker, Park Hee-tae used 330 million won for his 9 night 11 days trip with tens of attendants.

 

  We visited the National Assembly at that time to see materials such as receipts that can be the proof of the budget spent on diplomatic activities. However, we had to go through a ridiculous experience since they suddenly changed their words that documentary evidence of budget spending on diplomatic activities cannot be disclosed. We could receive the documentary evidence only after sending an official letter that asks the secretary general for disclosure. On top of spending tens of millions of won, their trick to keep secret how the money was used fosters a bigger doubt that they might have not carried out diplomatic activities properly.

 

   Two years later, are diplomatic activities of lawmakers conducted in an appropriate and transparent way? A request for information disclosure was made with regard to diplomatic activities of lawmakers between 2011 and 2013. Having looked at the information disclosed by National Assembly Secretariat,

 

<2012 Budget on Assembly’s Diplomatic Business>

 

 Unit: 1 million won

 

Budget

Spent

Remaining

Assembly members’ diplomacy(A)

4,639

3,976

663

overseas travel expense

3,396

2,889

business operation expense

1,243

1,087

International Meeting (B)

1,169

905

overseas travel expense

813

718

264

- business operation expense

356

187

Total (A+B)

5,808

4,881

927

 

Business expenses (overseas travel expense + business operation expense) are used for  Assembly members’ overseas visits(or attendance at international meetings), invitation, holding international meetings and exchange programs with Assembly Secretariat


   It was revealed that 4.8 billion won out of 5.8 billion won was used in 2012 including diplomatic activities of Assembly members (overseas travel expense + business operation expense) and international meetings (overseas travel expense + business operation expense).

 

  The business expenses include expenses for overseas visits, invitation and hosting international meetings and exchange programs with Assembly Secretariat. They notified that the expense purely used at diplomatic visits (inc. attendance at international meetings) cannot be disclosed since it conflicts with their decision of partial disclosure.

 

  The number of cases for diplomatic activities (diplomatic visits and attendance at international meetings) of Assembly members is 61 in 2011, 46 in 2012 and 10 by Jan 24, 2013. (The dramatic decline in diplomatic activities is allegedly due to the general election and presidential election.)

 

 <2011-2013 Diplomatic Activities of Assembly members>

(diplomatic visits and attendance at international meetings)

 

Unit: 1000 won

2 0 1 1

2 0 1 2

1

92,763

1

54,786

2

48,313

2

30,893

3

Park Hee-tae

National Assembly Speaker

3

40,271

4

59,449

4

Park Hee-tae

National Assembly Speaker

5

57,995

5

22,943

6

5,359

6

63,090

7

59,581

7

Chung Ui-hwa

National Assembly Vice Speaker

8

54,691

8

14,789

9

44,402

9

33,783

10

58,524

10

22,854

11

25,677

11

Chung Ui-hwa

Substituting National Assembly Speaker

12

75,552

12

8,702

13

56,338

13

65,388

14

60,150

14

18,691

15

Hong Jae-hyung

National Assembly Vice Speaker

15

107,699

16

38,416

16

58,704

17

60,928

17

59,968

18

Park Hee-tae

National Assembly Speaker

18

48,776

19

76,787

19

35,980

20

26,315

20

27,455

21

57,646

21

13,851

22

127,838

22

24,213

23

Chung Ui-hwa

 National Assembly Vice Speaker

23

21,010

24

51,591

24

Chung Ui-hwa

Substituting National Assembly Speaker

25

33,424

25

36,376

26

18,882

26

48,099

27

107,129

27

52,618

28

16,451

28

Hong Jae-hyung

National Assembly Vice Speaker

29

61,392

29

35,909

30

60,581

30

67,471

31

55,229

31

80,171

32

57,989

32

55,676

33

55,988

33

47,434

34

Hong Jae-hyung

National Assembly Vice Speaker

34

Lee Byung-seok

National Assembly Vice Speaker

35

16,951

35

Lee Byung-seok

National Assembly Vice Speaker

36

Park Hee-tae

National Assembly Speaker

36

69,114

37

17,985

37

7,404

38

5,912

38

15,973

39

49,455

39

16,086

40

40,155

40

19,508

41

21,297

41

15,726

42

52,043

42

Kang Chang-hee

National Assembly Speaker

43

9,373

43

86,325

44

41,837

44

8,346

45

50,236

45

25,906

46

18,944

46

30,284

47

57,566

Total

1,492,272

48

30,712

49

32,301

2 0 1 3

50

85,483

51

31,334

1

30,789

52

2,712

53

Park Hee-tae

National Assembly Speaker

2

56,039

54

13,787

3

75,541

55

25,646

4

108,044

56

70,188

5

60,347

57

19,124

6

54,147

58

80,515

7

44,156

59

3,420

8

Lee Byung-seok

National Assembly Vice Speaker

60

44,785

9

94,935

61

42,113

10

144,426

Total

2,469,254

Total

668,424

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






























































The expenses National Assembly Speaker and Vice Speaker used at diplomatic activities were excluded in the information provided by the Assembly. That’s why they could not reveal the total amount of spending on Assembly members’ diplomatic visits (incl. attendance at international meetings)

 

 

  After we asked the reason of nondisclosure, they answered that the cases of Prime Mister’s Office and Office of the President were used as reference. They added that this issue is related to “national security, national defense, unification and foreign affairs”, which are subjects of nondisclosure according to Information Disclosure Act, and it has potential to harm national interests when disclosed.

 

   We asked again why they disclosed the information two years ago and why the issues related to national security and foreign affairs are not applicable to other Assembly members. The person in charge at National Assembly Secretariat answered that seemingly it was judged by the top that Assembly Speaker and Vice Speaker have more important schedules in diplomatic activities and now the situation is different with two years ago. Did foreign affairs and national security suddenly become more important than 2 years ago? And how can national interests become harmed by disclosing the budget?

 

  The entire budget used at 54 cases of diplomatic activities excluding the ones of Assembly Speaker and Vice Speaker from total 61 cases was approximately 2.47 billion won in 2011. In 2012, it was 1.49 billion won for 38 of 46 cases that was disclosed. By January 2013, the budget was 660 million for 9 of 10 cases that were disclosed. However, it is difficult to estimate the budget spent on overseas visits of Assembly Speaker and Vice Speaker since the budget on pure diplomatic visits and attendance at international meetings (excl. invitation, hosting international meetings and exchange programs with National Assembly Secretariat) are not disclosed.

 

<You can zoom in by clicking the image / Diplomatic activities of Assembly members, please refer to the attached file for details.>

 

  How did Assembly Speaker and Vice Speaker use the budget that they had to use this type of trick? The Assembly that does not disclose the information since we posed a problem on former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae’s 9 night 11 days trip to France with his usage of more than 300 million won, they do not show any improvements despite of severe public criticism.

 

  The position of Assembly members is commonly called as a permanently risk free job and a job of the Gods with all the privileges. Their privileges and power are given by citizens and therefore eventually those should be given back to the citizens. The Assembly, one of the most influential institutions in the nation, is not being transparent and its members are abusing their power. The Assembly members are still going to touristic overseas business trips and the Assembly is not transparently disclosing the relevant budget. A formal objection was currently submitted to National Assembly Secretariat in order to receive documents about the budget spent on diplomatic activities of Assembly Speaker and Vice Speakers. We are looking forward to receiving the answer from the Assembly.



Related articles:


[한겨레- 정보공개센터 공동기획 ②]국회예산은 쌈짓돈 - 해외시찰의 실체

의원외교활동 , 공무보단 만찬이 중요해!



Attached are the disclosed documents.

 

2012의회외교사업비(정보공개센터).hwp

의회외교활동_현황(2011-2013)(13-7).pdf


 


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