2012 Budget Speech
Date: November 10, 2011
Venue: Seoul Metropolitan Council
Honorable Mr. Heo Kwang-tai, chair of the Seoul Metropolitan Council, and Council members,
On the occasion of today’s opening of the 235th regular session, it is a great honor for me to submit the 2012 budget plan for the Seoul Metropolitan Government for your deliberation, and to inform you of the direction that the city administration plans to take next year.
As many of you will remember, at the October 26 by-elections you heard the voices of countless citizens calling for change and their solemn plea to resolve today’s hardships, thereby making way for a bright and hopeful future through honest communication with the people.
Listening to the ardent expressions of the desires and expectations of our citizens that day, I pledged to the people that, as their mayor, I would stand firm among them and usher in a new paradigm. Therefore, I will humbly approach and communicate with all citizens and incorporate their small dreams and hopes into real policies in order to create “New Change, True Change”.
In order to keep my word to the people, I intend to install the “Hope Seoul Policy Advisory Committee,” comprised of experts from various fields, to listen to the opinions of the citizens and reflect their ideas in the drafting of a mid- to long-term master plan. That plan will embody the goal of building a city where the people are happy, a new vision for the future focused on people and welfare, and new administrative services.
I also plan to install the “Business Coordination Council,” made up of experts and private businesses, to conduct a thorough review of the funds that were injected into urban renewal projects and reallocate them to other areas, such as welfare, education, housing, job creation, and safety, that can improve the lives of our citizens and enhance their quality of life.
Through such efforts, I will turn the needle of Seoul’s compass toward the people and change, and thus, toward the future. In this way, the next 10 years will be a decade of change in Seoul for the good of the people.
The 2012 budget bill I am submitting to the Seoul Metropolitan Council today has been drafted under the principle of balanced financial operation, so that the valuable taxes paid our citizens will not be wasted, what budget that can be saved will be saved, and projects that are unnecessary will be suspended. The budget incorporates, at length, the perspectives and opinions of our citizens in terms of which projects should be adopted as priorities next year and which projects are desired by the most people, and has been drafted with “a focus on people to change the lives of Seoul citizens.” This bill concentrates the budget into three core areas: welfare, job creation, and public safety.
As such, the total size of next year’s budget represents an increase of 5.9 percent from this year’s budget at approximately KRW 21.80 trillion, which is comprised of KRW 15.21 trillion in general accounts and KRW 6.59 trillion in special accounts. With the exclusion of KRW 10.74 trillion for transfers between the two accounts and budget allocations to support other organizations, including autonomous districts and the Education Office, the actual budget to be implemented is KRW 11.72 trillion, up by 4.3 percent from this year.
The outline of the budget bill by sector is as follows:
First of all, there is the budget for welfare services, which is intended to inspire hope in all citizens. In order to show compassion for the people and respond to the increasing demand for social welfare, the budget for welfare services has been increased by 10.8 percent, to KRW 5.73 trillion. By acquiring 25.5 percent of the project cost for welfare, we plan to use this as the basis to achieve the goal of increasing welfare until it accounts for 30 percent of the 2014 budget. With this budget, we will narrow any gaps in our welfare system by constructing a seamless social safety net, including the provision of special assistance to people in low-income brackets who are not beneficiaries of social benefits and the establishment of the Seoul Welfare Standard, which is the minimum level of life quality for a Seoul citizen, and reduce concerns regarding childcare by increasing the number of national and public childcare facilities and after-school care in elementary schools. By supplying various types of public rental housing, including rental housing in redeveloped and renovated apartment complexes, and the installation of the Housing Deposit Support Center, we will ease the citizens’ anxiety over the cost of leasing apartments. In addition, we will improve the educational environment by implementing policies that allow university students to stop worrying about paying tuition and concentrate on their studies, such as the policy to halve the tuition at the University of Seoul, and by expanding the free, green lunch program at schools to include first year middle school students as well as fifth and sixth graders in elementary school.
Second, we allocated approximately KRW 1.71 trillion to the environmental conservation sector in order to make Seoul an environment-friendly city where conservation efforts and economic growth exist in harmony. We will actively respond to climate change by increasing the supply of new and renewable energy, including the formation of a “solar fund” to install community-based solar power plants, the adoption of a feed in tariff (FIT) system customized to Seoul, and projects to enhance the energy efficiency of buildings. Also, we will continuously improve Seoul’s air quality by supplying environmentally-friendly vehicles, such as natural gas and electric cars, and work together with the citizens to create more places for rest and relaxation in their neighborhoods, including local forests and small local parks, making Seoul a truly green city with an abundance of green spaces.
Third, we earmarked approximately KRW 1.71 trillion for the roads and transportation sector in order to increase the safety and convenience of the transportation system. This includes the extension of Lines 7 and 9 of the city subway system, construction of a light subway line from Ui to Sinseol, and improvement of the air quality in subway trains and buses, thereby creating a safe and comfortable public transportation system. We will also create a world-class Seoul-type taxi model, which will include founding a public taxi company and building a taxi management system, and improve the environment for vulnerable pedestrians, including “Amazon” forests where children can run and play freely. Furthermore, we will pursue projects aimed at improving the flow of traffic by creating zones dedicated to public transportation, increasing parking facilities, such as complex transit centers and public parking lots, and building more highways, such as the Gangnam Beltway.
Fourth, we have allocated KRW 399.2 billion to housing and city management in order to create an ideal housing environment and reorganize city spaces. We intend to create a housing environment composed of vibrant local communities through such initiatives as the neighborhood community improvement projects in which locals participate and wholesome apartment complex communities. Moreover, we will establish the historical, cultural, and tourism foundation of downtown Seoul by creating the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, constructing a new government office, and launching an initiative near Sejong-ro with the goal of establishing Hangeul as a national brand. We will also restore the ecosystem of the Hangang River by creating the Mangwon Ecological Park and installing natural-type embankments, and improve the river’s accessibility to citizens by making more interchanges and building a green road in Mangwon, thereby making it a place where citizens and the ecosystem co-exist in harmony.
Fifth, we have allocated KRW 510.9 billion to industry in order to generate creative, sustainable jobs and invigorate the economy. We also plan to install a social investment fund to create new jobs in the public and social sectors and for our youth, nurture creative professionals by operating the Seoul Creative Lab and creative academies, and generate stable, productive jobs by increasing internships at small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). Furthermore, we will reinforce the foundation for the independence of SME businessmen by providing assistance to SMEs regarding overseas commerce and provide protection and management support to small supermarkets. In particular, we hope to vitalize local commercial districts and community economies by assisting traditional markets, modernizing the facilities of wholesale agricultural and fisheries markets, and nurturing urban agriculture, among others.
Sixth, we designated KRW 439.5 billion for culture and tourism in order to expand the opportunities for citizens to enjoy culture and strengthen competitiveness in the tourism sector. Some ideas on how to broaden the variety of cultural arts in the city are the construction of a main city library and the creation of a local arts factory. The production of major performances and hosting of the Hi! Seoul Festival are other ways in which we will endeavor to provide Seoul citizens with high-level cultural arts performances. Also, to show our commitment to attracting tourists, we will operate a theme-based Seoul tourism course, called the “Seoul Green Tour,” and develop high value added tourism products connected to the city’s industries, such as the MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Convention, and Exhibition) industry. Furthermore, we will restore the historical and cultural heritage of the city, namely the Seoul Fortress Wall, in a phase-by-phase process, and increase the number of venues for citizens to engage in sports and recreational activities, such as a dome baseball stadium in the southwest part of Seoul.
Seventh, we have allocated KRW 739.4 billion, a considerable increase of 44.3 percent, to safety in a bid to make Seoul safe and immune from disasters. Specifically, to prepare for abnormal climate conditions with a focus on prevention, we will construct a city safety net to prevent flooding, construct an underground flood drainage tunnel, install more water pumping stations, and take measures to prevent mountain mudslides. Furthermore, we will enhance our rapid emergency response capability to mitigate the damage and loss of life caused by fires and other disasters. To accomplish this, we plan to improve special and emergency rescue equipment and fire engines and further strengthen the safety management of roads, bridges, and tunnels.
Lastly, we have allocated KRW 310.6 billion to general administration in order to provide high quality services to citizens. The funding will be used to enhance public services, including the 120 Dasan Call Center, and reflect the voices of the people in the city’s administration through a communication based citizen participatory PR system.
Honorable Council members!
This city administration has hereby drafted its first budget bill with the goal of establishing a new blue print for the people, communities, and communication. This budget will unite a city that has been divided and embroiled in conflict, shed light toward a new hope, and change the course of the lives of our citizens toward happiness.
By nurturing “Hope Seoul” in 2012, we will achieve sound financial operations by reforming the structure of expenditures, and we will set financial soundness indexes and transparently disclose them to establish a framework for stable financial operation. In particular, by employing a strategy of “select and concentrate,” we will efficiently allocate the budget in pursuit of long-term goals through a step-by-step process, thereby creating change and slowly opening the door to the future of Seoul.
We look to your full support and cooperation so that we can create the change that the citizens have demanded of Seoul; namely, the transformation to a new, people-centered city.