The Seoul Metropolitan Council hosts a forum where delegates from the world’s major cities discuss the issue of municipal finance, which has emerged as a main challenge with ever increasing welfare spending and decreasing revenues. The forum is expected to serve as a communication platform for delegates to seek ways for fiscal soundness.
The Seoul Metropolitan Council (chairman Park Rae-Hak) announced that it would hold an international conference with the title, ‘Roles of municipal council for local fiscal soundness’, on Feb 10 (Tues). The conference will begin at 14:00 at the Multiplex Hall, 8th floor, the new city hall building with around 300 attendees, including Chairman of the National Assembly Jung Eui-Wha, Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon, delegates of overseas cities, domestic and overseas fiscal experts, local delegates in Korea, public officials of local governments, representatives from civic groups.
This conference marks the first international event hosted by a Korean municipal council. With the timely agenda of ‘fiscal soundness of a local government’, which has been cited as the biggest challenge in the advancement of local autonomy, major overseas cities’ delegates will discuss their ideas. In particular, as much as the advanced capacity of local council based on the sufficient local finance is the prerequisite for expanding welfare, a global trend, the forum aims to seek ways to devise right policy direction and enhance the legislation right of a municipal council.
The forum will begin with two key note speeches by German and USA delegates who will address the issues of ‘Lawmaking to enhance local finance’ and ‘Roles of municipal council for local fiscal soundness’, respectively. Then, the forum will continue in the form of panel discussion, where delegates from 6 overseas cities and Seoul share their experiences on the issues.
Ulrich Karpen, a former city council member of Hamburg, Germany and incumbent professor at Hamburg University, who also works as the vice president of International Association of Legislation, will give the forum’s first keynote speech. He will stresses that in order to secure autonomy of a local government, fiscal flexibility of new public management and the analysis on the effects of regulation on municipal taxes are required. He will add that a local government has a constitutional right for the sustainable financial resources over the central government, and there should be fair balance and distribution of finances between central and local, and among local governments.
After the speech, Martha Choe, a Korean American, who served as a minister of the Economic Development Ministry of State of Washington, and the first female local council member in Seattle, will take on the stage to give a speech with a title, “The leadership of a local government in the global economy”. Through the speech, she will take exemplary cases to demonstrate that efficiency enhancement through streamlining of
procedures and cooperation with non-governmental sector is a must to solve the fiscal challenges of a local government.
In the meantime, in the panel discussions, panels from the Seoul Metropolitan Council and five cities out of seven Seoul’s sisterhood cities will engage in heated debates on the agenda. The speakers who represents sisterhood cities and lead the panel discussion includes; Battulga Dashjamts, chairman of Ulaanbaatar City Council, Hoat Van Le, vice chairman of Finance Economy Committee, Bangkok City Council, Wang Qi, chairman of Economy Finance Committee, Beijing City Council, and Ramazan Kabasakal, director of International Relations, Ankara City Council.
As for the Seoul Metropolitan Committee, Lee Shin-Hye, a proportional representative from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy party will participate as a panel and present practical ways for a city council to promote fiscal soundness of the Seoul city government, including increasing the cutback scale for a project in the budget deliberation process if the project does not meet the procedure requirements.
Park Rae-Hak, the chairman of the Seoul Metropolitan Committee, will express his hope for the international forum in his opening speech by saying, “In order to recover fiscal soundness, a local government should be able to secure fiscal autonomy from the central government. Likewise, a local council should have fiscal autonomy from the executive committee. It is my great hope that this conference will serve as a great venue to seek solutions for the common challenge and search ways to cope with the fiscal crisis of a local government, by sharing each other’s experience.”
In addition, he will propose to evolve the conference into a permanent organization, ‘World Local Council consultative group’, which will serve as a platform for seeking mutual prosperity and cooperation among local city councils around the world. If his proposal is accepted and the consultative body is established, it will play an essential role in promoting mutual exchanges and cooperation among Seoul and overseas local city councils, which will promote the advancement of local autonomy and local councils.