[Editorial] Better late than none?
Published : Dec 9, 2011 - 18:50
Updated : Dec 9, 2011 - 18:50
The Dec. 2 constitutional deadline for the passage of a budget bill has come and gone. Yet, no agreement on an extraordinary parliamentary session appeared to be forthcoming from the ruling and main opposition parties when the regular parliamentary session was set to come to a close Friday. The reason was that the parties were embroiled in internal turmoil.

Budget officers in the administration must have been fretting over the possibility of being forced to draw up a provisional spending plan. To their relief, however, the floor leaders of the ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed Thursday to open an extraordinary session and resume the process of deliberating the 2012 budget bill on Monday, reportedly aiming to pass it on Dec. 23. It should be better late than not at all.

The accord came two weeks after the Democratic Party boycotted the budget-deliberation process in protest against the Grand National Party’s railroading of the free trade agreement with the United States. Due credit must be given to their floor leaders, who agreed to open a new session for the passage of the budget bill although both of their parties were considering disbanding themselves for the creation of new parties ahead of the April general elections.

What members of the parliamentary budget committee must prioritize is looking into standing committee-approved increases in welfare and other spending, readjusting them and making cuts elsewhere, if necessary. The budget committee must not allow the total spending to exceed the amount requested by the administration. The nation needs to pursue fiscal prudence if it is to balance its budget in the near future, if not in 2013 ― the target year of President Lee Myung-bak’s administration. The goal of balancing the budget in 2013 will not be attained if the National Assembly yields to demands for more spending on welfare.

Another caveat to the budget committee is not to miss the newly set deadline for the passage of the budget bill this time. As required by the Constitution, ample time must be given to the administration if it is to rewrite all relevant administrative regulations before the new fiscal year starts on Jan. 1. But it has already squandered too much time. Moreover, it is a shame that the National Assembly has failed to meet the constitutional deadline for the ninth consecutive year.