A Proclamation to the Public on ‘Debt Reduction by 7 Trillion Won’
Date Dec.29, 2014 | Venue in the front of Debt Status Board in the lobby of Seoul City Hall
My fellow citizens, good morning. I am Park Won soon, the mayor of Seoul Special City. I am here with you to tell you about three of my admirations. First of all, I would like to thank all the employees of our officers from the Seoul Metropolitan Government as well as from affiliated institutions for arranging this wonderful occasion today. Your dedication and efforts have attracted the admiration of all the citizens of Seoul.
The first admiration I would like to speak about you is the admiration of numbers. Looking back, the city administration has been very much like a war on numbers. That is why the admiration of numbers has taken to my heart first and foremost.
I am proud to officially announce to all of you here that the debt of Seoul City now stands at 12 trillion, 739.2 billion won, down from 19 trillion and 987.3 billion won, a reduction of nearly 12 trillion won. We have reduced our debt by around 7.2 trillion, 730 million won in daily interest that would originally be charged over 2 billion won. In annual terms, the interest has been reduced by as much as 266.5 billion won.
With this money, we were able to build a city government office and a bridge over the Han River every single year. With this amount of money, we were able to construct 1325 rental houses with 59 square meters (18 Pyeong), and one Seoul Forest each year. A total of 1586 basic livelihood security recipients were able to receive financial assistance and 353 national and public daycare centers were built every year. My heart almost bursts with grief, as all of this would have been our citizens’ precious money. What makes our achievement more meaningful is that it has been made with the successful construction of 80,000 rental houses.
Even supporters initially believed that this would be impossible to complete and advised me to adjust or abandon the plan of the construction of 80,000 public rental houses and reduction of debt by 7 trillion won. To be honest, I considered giving them up as well, and our team did a lot of thinking about adjusting our target. However, my strong belief that the financial crisis of the city meant a dire crisis for our citizens allowed me to stick to our goal. We put forth our concerted efforts, and eventually caught two birds with one stone and attained the first admiration, the admiration of numbers. And this became possible only with the second admiration, the admiration of humans.
During that time, we put enormous efforts into making our goal possible. Imagine how hard it must have been to move ahead with the plan. A tense and heated debate continued every single week. The city government and SH Corporation jointly worked out a mid- and long-term plan for debt reduction and, on several occasions, we organized T/F for debt reduction where the city and SH officials held joint meetings. Debt reduction has always been the central theme of the mayoral so-called ‘on-spot offices’. As you may know, after the completion of Eunpyeong Newtown, 615 apartments were left empty for more than 4 years. I asked my team to relocate my office to one of the unsold apartments and stayed there for 9 days, gaining valuable insight into how the apartments could be sold. Moonjung District and Magok District were also among them.
I even asked the head of the project to be on his phone 24/7, making sure to answer the phone from potential buyers even if it was midnight. I tried to hear and understand the needs of businesspeople on every site and develop a plan of action to fit their needs. We also held over a hundred marketing strategy meetings.
Unfortunately, that was not the only problem we had. We were still facing a great amount of adversity along the path. The city revenue shortfall was forecasted to reach nearly 400 billion won due to the economic recession, and with the increase in free education expenses, we had to issue municipal bonds worth 200 billion won, which we had not planned for in December last year. Furthermore, there was a loss of over 500 billion won in the SH Corporation’s fiscal year of 2012. There was no end in sight to the crisis. Finally, one day, I believe it was May 16th 2013, we put up the ‘debt status board,’ which you are seeing right now.
Some people told me that having debt is not something to be proud of, and I must say I was proud of all of our efforts with citizens to reduce the debt despite the difficult climate. Our journey was not easy, but our efforts were never futile. I would like to pay my respects to the admiration of humans you have shown us and the admiration of numbers you have made. I must express my heartfelt thanks to all of you.
Thank you very much, SH Corporation, Seoul Metro, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, Magok project officers, Urban Development Department, Redevelopment Department, and Urban Planning Department and budget officers of Eunpyeong-gu Office. You have been extremely helpful. All the credit goes to you. The admiration that you have made serves as motivation and inspiration to the citizens of Seoul.
Now, we are preparing for the third admiration, the admiration of tomorrow. Our endeavor to secure financial soundness will be continued consistently and meticulously. The admiration of numbers we have made will serve as a fundamental driving force for realizing consolidated financial management, covering debt and liabilities of the city and affiliated institutions during the 6th city administration elected by popular vote. This is in line with the central government policy and the plan of debt reduction and management efficiency of local public enterprises. Our city government will catch two new birds by managing debt and liabilities of the city and affiliated institutions to a reasonable level, while heavily investing in essential areas regarding citizens’ safety and housing welfare for low-income households.
Let’s catch the two birds! Let’s go together slowly and firmly, and let go of selfishness and greed. I would like to give my appreciation and respect to our family, and say their names once again. SH Corporation, Seoul Metro, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, Magok project officers, Urban Development Department, Redevelopment Department, and Urban Planning Department and budget officers of Eunpyeong-gu Office. You would remain forever in the history of Seoul city administration. You have become such a great encouragement to our citizens. Thank you.