S. Korea’s parliament starts audit of gov’t agencies

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly kicked off its 20-day audit of government agencies Wednesday, with the Moon Jae-in administration's policies on North Korea and the economy likely to come under scrutiny.

This year's audit will be the first full-fledged evaluation for the Moon government, which took office in May last year with pledges to seek engagement with North Korea and push for income-driven growth.

Fourteen out of 17 parliamentary standing committees will examine the performance of 734 government agencies until Oct. 29. The remaining three panels, including the intelligence committee, will separately audit 19 organizations from Oct. 30-Nov. 7.

At the audit sessions, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) plans to highlight efforts by the government and the party to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Moon has held three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un so far this year. The North vowed efforts for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Moon has served as a mediator between the United States and North Korea to move forward stalled talks on Pyongyang's denuclearization. U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim are likely to hold a second summit in the near future, following their historic summit in Singapore in June.

But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) plans to take issue with North Korea's failure to take concrete steps for denuclearization.

At the defense committee audit, rival parties clashed over details about an inter-Korean military agreement clinched just after Moon and Kim's third summit in Pyongyang last month.

The DP assessed the deal as helping reduce accidental military clashes, but the LKP claimed that the agreement amounted to the South's abandonment of its security posture against North Korea.

During an audit of the foreign ministry, the main topics were the North's denuclearization process and the prospects for a second summit between the United States and North Korea following U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent trip to Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, opposition parties plan to zero in on what they called the failure of Moon's income-led growth policy amid sluggish job markets and the government's real estate policy.

Income-driven growth is one of the three pillars of the Moon government's economic policy, along with innovation-led growth and a fair economy. It is aimed at spurring growth by increasing household incomes and consumption.

In a related move, the government has hiked the minimum wage twice, but the move has had the unintended effect of hampering job growth.

At the land committee session, the LKP and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party denounced the government's real estate policy for failing to stabilize the property market. But the DP defended the government's policy as proper measures to curb speculative demand.

"We are urging opposition parties to stop their political attacks and to join efforts to make a productive parliament," Hong Young-pyo, the floor leader of the DP, said at a meeting with senior party members.

Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP, however, said that his party will thoroughly review the Moon government's performance to make it take responsibility for policy lapses.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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