The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a liberal civic group, released a report on the details of “special activity fund” spent at the National Assembly from 2011 to 2013. They analyzed 1,296 disbursement documents they received from the National Assembly’s Secretariat on June 29.
“We found that lawmakers cited various causes that does not fit the purpose of the special activities budget but received the funds as if it is additional salary,” the PSPD said.
About 8 billion won is set aside in the National Assembly budget every year in the name of special activity funds. While the money was allotted to ranking lawmakers, the parliamentary speakers and party leaders, there is no information on if the funds were all for the proper causes, the civic group said.
According to the PSPD, funds were provided monthly to members of special parliamentary committees such as those in charge of ethics, and budget, which hold meetings only four to six times a year. Over billions of dollars have been provided to the National Assembly speakers and lawmakers during the years for their overseas business trips.
Party leaders were also found to have received up to 60 million won monthly, while the head of parliamentary committees received 6 million won monthly. But it is unclear if they spent the money for special activities related to their work, the group said.
“Parliamentary special activity funds have been spent without any oversight, and no receipts were required for its usage,” Seo Bok-gyeong, the head of organization said. “We must abolish this practice of wasting taxpayers money.”
The group also called for the Board of Audit and Inspection to conduct a crackdown on the 900 billion won of the special activity funds that are planned for other government institutes.
The civic organization received the data from the National Assembly’s Secretariat three years after they had made the request of information disclosure in 2015. At the time, the National Assembly Secretariat refused to provide the information claiming the information should remain confidential. The group filed a suit, and the Supreme Court made the final ruling in favor of the group in May.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)