Published : 2013-03-17 16:36
Updated : 2013-03-17 21:22
|Floor leaders Lee Hahn-koo (second from right) of the Saenuri Party and Park Ki-choon of the DUP shake hands before the meeting at the National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap News)|
The ruling Saenuri Party and the Democratic United Party struck a deal over a Government Organization Act revision on Sunday after 47 days of negotiation deadlock and 21 days of administration stagnation. The parties plan to process the bill on Wednesday.
The two sides agreed to uphold most of the original plans by President Park Geun-hye but implement additional measures to address concerns raised by the opposition party, namely concerning the authority over new media outlets.
The agreement finally gave a boost to the delayed start of the Park administration, which will enter its full operation with 17 ministries and three lower-level ministries.
The negotiation delays were seen to have hurt both sides, with Park and the ruling party criticized for the top-down decision-making style, and the opposition for holding back state affairs.
Park is expected to hold a Cabinet meeting to confirm the new government as soon as the National Assembly formally approves the plans.
Upon the agreement, all broadcasting-related issues will be handed over the new Ministry of Future Planning and Science. However, the Science Ministry will require the agreement of the Korea Communications Commission when issuing or renewing licenses for system operators, satellite television service providers and other related businesses. Matters regarding broadcast news will, however, continue to be controlled by the KCC.
As a measure to maintain integrity of the broadcast media, the parties agreed to establish a special parliamentary committee on fairness of broadcasts to run for six months and prepare any necessary revisions to relevant laws.
The DUP had resisted the transfer, saying that giving a government ministry with authority as sole decision maker over cable television operators or system operators will damage the integrity of broadcasts. Unlike ministries, the KCC’s leadership consists of a chairman, vice chair and three standing commissioners. SOs are companies that relay content made by program providers.
The parties also reached agreements on other fields, including enabling chiefs of the Small and Medium Business Administration, Public Procurement Service and the Board of Audit and Inspection to report cases of price fixing, a right currently only enjoyed by the fair trade commissioner.
To better protect financial consumers, the government will draw up plans within the first half of this year to reorganize the financial supervisory system such as by establishing a financial consumer protection agency.
The ruling and main opposition parties also agreed on the plans to establish a special counsel as a standing body, and for establishing the post of special inspector for cases involving irregularities of the president’s families and of high-ranking officials.
The agreement also calls for the strengthening the roles of the Agriculture Ministry, and to give both the Ministry of Education and the Science Ministry authority over matters concerning industry-academia cooperation.
Sunday’s inter-party talks also resulted in the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission becoming subordinate to the Prime Minister’s Office. The commission, however, will retain its independence, and the parliament and the administrative branch of the government will select an equal number of commission members.
The agreement signed on Sunday was also accompanied by a list pertinent to the parliamentary operation.
The two parties specified that a parliamentary investigation into the case of a National Intelligence Service agent posting online comments about presidential candidates in the run up to the Dec. 19 election will be launched immediately after the public prosecutors’ investigation is completed.
The agent, identified by the surname Kim, allegedly posted negative comments about the then-presidential candidate Rep. Moon Jae-in for the DUP on various online communities in an attempt to influence public opinion in favor of Park.
In addition, it was agreed that they will work to launch a parliamentary investigation into the four-river restoration project if the result of that conducted by the Board of Audit and Inspection is deemed unsatisfactory.
The DUP and the Saenuri Party also agreed to revise the Personnel Hearing Act by June, and to put up Reps. Kim Jae-yeon and Lee Seok-ki of the Unified Progressive Party up for ethics committee review in March.
Kim and Lee are alleged to have engaged in illegal activities in becoming candidates for the party’s proportional representatives in last year’s general elections.
Key points of agreement
•To run special committee on broadcasters’ neutrality for six months
•To require consensus from KCC when licensing or revising laws for new media channels
•To mobilize permanent special prosecutors and inspectors for high-ranking officials’ irregularities
•To plan establishment of financial consumer protection agency
•To give SMBA, PPS, and BAI right to file price-fixing charges
•To consider inspecting river refurbishment project in case of insufficient audit
•To open probe into alleged NIS election interference
•To request eligibility screening of UPP lawmakers
•To revise confirmation hearing laws by June
By Choi He-suk