"Let People Decide"
Seoul Mayor Oh proposes to put free lunch proposal up for vote opposing the Seoul City Council's declaration to move forward
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon makes a New year adress on the 2011 business plan at Sejong Cultural Center.
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon in his speech during the New YearOs ceremony held at Sejong Cultural Center on January 3, said the city's administrative objective will be "Municipal Policies Closer to ResidentsO Daily Lives," in front of some 4,000 municipal employees, foundation employees, and related organization employees.
The mayor said education, supplementary education and residents's stable livelihoods are the three major targets the city must solve for Seoul citizens this year, pledging also the city's best efforts to achieve the six satisfactory points for citizens including health, clear air and elimination of noise, reducing bad smells, improving senior citizens comfort, expanding public transport, culture and design.
The Seoul mayor also promised to expand to eight the number of new growth engines that he has been pursuing from the beginning of his fourth term from six and enhance the competitiveness of the city's business service, finance, tourism, and convention and at the same time spur the development of IT fusion, bio medicine, and others that are included in the green industry along with the development of creative industries represented by digital contents, design and fashion to seek economic stability by creating good quality jobs in Seoul this year.
In the meantime, Mayor Oh said it is difficult to run the city because of the city council's demand to provide free lunches to secondary school students in Seoul and he cannot agree with placing the financial burden from free meal costs to the future generations to pay for them. He said he proposes to put the matter to the vote by Seoul citizens so that they can decide upon the issue. Oh said the City Council has disapproved the welfare budget proposed by the city hall to pay for various tourism-related projects including the West Sea Boat Route Project and the Han River Arts Island Project and the construction of "Happy Town" for senior citizens. The council also cut the budget senior citizens to come to the Seoul City Plaza to enjoy various cultural activities held at the famous Plaza in front of the City Hall in downtown Seoul. Last year, some 210,000 old folks came to the Plaza to watch the artistic events unfolding at the location and now the place will be desolate with no senior citizens visiting it, the mayor lamented.
This is not the only area with a budget reduction. The council also cut the budgets for "Hi, Seoul Scholarship" support funds, the Seoul Hope Market project, and the Yanghwa Grand Bridge repair budget gravely impairing the city administration projects.
Mayor Oh said the council dominated by the opposition Democratic Party whose members make up 74 percent of the council disapproved the budget for 220 cases of the cityOs businesses totaling 391.2 billion won after declaring the need for free lunches at secondary schools in Seoul.
Oh said the vote is the only answer to the councilOs proposal to provide free lunches at secondary schools in Seoul, stressing that the issue is a national one as it will hurt the central government budget in the end too, calling it a nationally detrimental free lunch tsunami unless it is stopped in Seoul. "I came to propose the vote in Seoul with a great concern for the countryOs future survival from the financial damage that the free lunches will bring to the entire nation," the mayor said.
Oh stressed that the government finance would be critically damaged if what the Democratic Party demands are allowed including free lunches, free medical care, free child care, and half off school registration fees. He said once welfare projects are launched they cannot be suspended and should be allowed to go on and on and the nation has no means to pay for all those astronomical expenses with huge deficits accruing in government fiscal policies. He said the next decade is a crucial period for Korea to reach $30,000 per capita GDP and prepare for next 100 years of our well-being and it could be derailed if the opposition partyOs proposal for free lunches, free medical care and child care under its free welfare populism is realized as government fiscal policies will be seriously damaged. Mayor Oh cited a number of welfare services provided by foreign countries that almost ruined their fiscal policies such as the National Health Service in Britain, the Social Protection in Portugal, the retirement and health care service in Greece and stipends for child care introduced by the Democratic Party in Japan.
The Local Autonomy Law article 14 allows the matters that could give an excessive burden on residents and important impact can be put to a vote by the residents for approval. nw