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Mayor's Hope Journal

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  • Easing the Financial Burden of Free Childcare
    [Mayor Park Won Soon’s Hope Journal 245]

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    Regarding the current controversy between Seoul Metropolitan Government and the ruling Saenuri Party over the financial burden imposed on Seoul Metropolitan Government by the provision of free childcare, News 1 introduced a press release entitled “Cheer up, Won Soon!” written by Representative Kim Jin Pyo on August 22. The article is not at all politically biased but rather contains a number of noteworthy truths and coherent viewpoints. The following passage is taken from News 1’s article dated August 22, 2013 about the said press release.

    – Quote –
    The other day Seoul Metropolitan Government ran a newspaper ad to the effect that the Government should bear part of the financial cost of Seoul’s free childcare program. In response, leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party said, “We find it difficult to understand Mr. Park Won Soon’s position. Can Seoul Metropolitan Government afford to spend money on this kind of political ad when it does not have the money for a free childcare program?”

    Speaking out on the controversy, Representative Kim Jin Pyo of the Democratic Party opined, “Free childcare was something that both the ruling and opposition parties promised to the people during the last Presidential election. As for President Park Geun Hye, she promised that the Government would pay all the financial costs for the care of infants aged up to five. The President is on record as saying, “It is right for the central Government to be responsible for a program like childcare,” during an informal meeting with mayors of metropolises and do governors after her victory in the Presidential election.

    Mr. Kim Jin Pyo also said, “In a session of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Local Finance, for which I served as chairman, the ruling Saenuri Party took part in the adoption of the resolution asking to raise the percentage of support from the national treasury from ‘20% for Seoul Metropolitan Government and 50% for the other local governments’ to ‘40% for Seoul Metropolitan Government and 70% for the other local governments’ in connection with the need to mitigate local governments’ share of the financial burden in the provision of free childcare.

    Mr. Kim Jin Pyo went on to say, “Was the President’s campaign pledge about free childcare merely a political charade designed to win over voters? Human resources are the country’s only growth engine. Free childcare is an investment in the future. We should never try to cut back on spending on childcare, which is an indispensable element of welfare that will get the country out of the rut occasioned by the low birth rate.”

    Concerning Seoul Metropolitan Government’s recent newspaper ad, which sought to pressurize the Government into providing financial aid to the city in light of the President’s statement, Mr. Kim Jin Pyo sympathized with Seoul Metropolitan Government’s stance, saying that the Government should respond positively to Seoul Metropolitan Government’s request. He said, “The same problem has been experienced by other local governments, including those of Gyeonggi-do and Incheon-si. I find it a matter of deep regret that the Saenuri Party is trying to tarnish the image of Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon rather than focusing on what it should do about the problem raised by Seoul Metropolitan Government. The ruling party should cooperate in the passage of the bill for the Infant Care Act, which requires that free childcare support from the national treasury be raised to 40% for Seoul and 70% for other local governments.”
    – Unquote –