4. Equal Regional Development
KOREA REPORT(2017, #1)
Equal Regional Development
4. Decentralization and balanced regional development as the goal of Moon Jae-in Administration: “Equal Regional Development"
Promoting decentralized autonomy and equal development as priority in order to realize "Equal Regional Development"
Highly-centralized administrative structure and “Seoul Metropolitan–centered” growth strategy hinder the maturing of Korea's democracy and future development.
- The highly centralized authoritative and financial powers encumber the autonomous development of local regions and fixate capital-oriented culture.
- “Seoul Metropolitan–centered” growth strategy has invited diminishing of quality of life(QoL) due to excessive overpopulation and deprived the local regions of the opportunities to establish mutual cooperation.
The Moon Administration to take on aggressive measures to promote decentralization, and to pursue efficient and equal development of all regions across South Korea.
- By transferring authority and expanding tax allocations to local governments, the government will promote regional grassroots democracy through broader participation of the autonomous citizens.
- Realize “Equal Development” by maximizing regional potentials and establishing independent basis of growth, which will eliminate the economic and social disparities between the capital and the regional provinces, as well as among the regions.
Three Strategies and Eleven Policy Tasks for "Equal Regional Development"
1st Agenda: Decentralized Regional Autonomy to Substantialize Grassroots Democracy
- Regional autonomy as the critical foundation for 'livelihood democracy': The Moon Administration is to implement four agendas to promote distribution of central power functions to local authority.
- Institutionalize the Second Cabinet Council; develop substantial basis for decentralization by holding simultaneous Constitutional referendum during the 2018 local general election; uphold Sejong and Jeju Special Provinces as the model for autonomous regional governments
- To strengthen local government finances, the government will take on reform measures to mitigate center-regional financial imbalances; Abolish state-designated textbook and implement reform measures to enhance local governance and autonomy in education
2nd Agenda: Balanced Development for Better Living
- The Moon administration promotes three 3 policy tasks for balanced development, as establishing independent basis for regional growth becomes critical in overcoming “Seoul Metropolitan–centered geographical polarization and regional deterioration.
- Revitalize the source of regional growth, such as innovative cities, Sejong City, industrial estates, and Saemangeum project, and promote 'New Deal' urban redevelopment plan focusing on the improvement of old city centers and retirement residences.
- To rebuild shipbuilding and maritime industries, which bring significant effects on related industries and job generation, the government will implement re-construction measures for core industries in related regions.
3rd Agenda: Bringing People Back to Agricultural, Forestry, and Fishing Industries
- The primary goal and criteria of the reconstruction of agricultural, forestry and fishing regions is the incorporation of young generation. To realize this goal, four agendas will be put into effect, including structural strengthening of fishing industry, income stabilization, enhancement of welfare services, etc. to build agricultural, forestry and fishing villages that attract wide range of potential workers.
- Improve infrastructure such as transportation and medical and residential services by implementing “KRW 100 taxi service”, farm pension, social agricultural projects, among other measures; Establish state- and regional-based food plan for Year 2018 and install circulation system for food production and consumption
- Promote income stability and improvement of welfare services for the first-industry workers, by creating cutting-edge working environment and providing incentives such as stable rice price, public welfare complex for forest industry, as well as construction of ‘smart aquaculture farm.’
The Moon Administration has demonstrated strong will to pursue constitutional reform to implement decentralization policies that would establish what is similar to federal system for 'Equal Regional Development'
The government has expressed determination to achieve balanced development and grassroots democracy through constitutional amendment.
– At the advisory meeting with seventeen mayors and governors held on June 14th, President Moon announced his intention to carry out 'decentralization amendment' that includes substantive strengthening of local autonomy and institutionalization of the Second Cabinet Council, which aims to establish what is similar to federal system.
– Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon also made similar statement regarding the establishing of decentralized system at commemorative event held on July 22nd, which celebrated the 10th-year anniversary of the launching of “Administrative City Construction Agency” and the fifth anniversary of the birth of Sejong City.
"Equal Development" and "Decentralization" as urgent tasks in dealing with ‘extinctions of local regions’
- Currently, except for Seoul Metropolitan provinces and some major cities, a great number of local cities face the risk of 'extinction'- a term that has already become widely acknowledged.
- The issues that surround these local regions are not the problems of seeking regional interests, but rather it is a matter of survival. In order to deal with this pressing issue, it is necessary to build national consensus through relevant discussions based on which the mutual interests among the regions can be attained.