Yoon calls for abolishing ‘nonsense political subsidies’

June 28, 2023

President Yoon Suk Yeol called Wednesday for abolishing “nonsense political subsidies” in an apparent reference to subsidies given to civil organizations under the previous administration.

Yoon made the remark while presiding over a national financial strategy meeting with government and ruling party officials ahead of full-fledged planning for next year’s government budget, according to presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon.

“We must get rid of nonsense political subsidies, while keeping economic subsidies alive and making social subsidies more efficient and rational,” Yoon was quoted as saying during the meeting held at the former presidential compound of Cheong Wa Dae.

President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at a national financial strategy meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on June 28, 2023. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at a national financial strategy meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on June 28, 2023. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The instruction came after a recent audit of government subsidies given to about 12,000 civil organizations over the past three years found a total of 1,865 cases of irregularities involving about 31.4 billion won (US$24 million).

Earlier, Yoon ordered the implementation of a strict oversight system under which project leaders and the public servants responsible will be held to account in the event of irregularities in subsidized projects.

Yoon took direct aim at the previous Moon Jae-in administration, saying the national debt, which had been kept at 600 trillion won for 70 years, rose by 400 trillion won during its term, increasing the total to over 1,000 trillion won.

“If we are thinking truly of the nation and the people, and not of political ambition, then fiscal austerity and soundness is inevitable at the moment,” he said. “Our government, unlike the previous government, will maintain a principle of responsible and sustainable fiscal management.”

Yoon pointed out that some people have been unable to overcome their “financial addiction” and continue to call for increasing cash expenditures even if it requires taking out a loan.

Such behavior is “typical plunder of future generations,” he said, adding that money must be spent properly on areas that need it the most, including national defense, law enforcement, protecting the weak and creating quality jobs.

Also during the meeting, Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon reported plans to drastically increase the quota for skilled foreign workers from 2,000 people last year to over 30,000 this year, according to Lee.

Han also said the government would push to amend relevant laws to allow an extension of up to three months to the five-month stay currently permitted for seasonal workers.