Going Glibal in New Millennium - (18); for A Harmonious and Cooperative Century

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), December 19, 1999 | Go to article overview

Going Glibal in New Millennium - (18); for A Harmonious and Cooperative Century


As a public administration scholar, I hope New Year 2000 will mark the beginning of cooperation and harmony between the central government and the many local governments, between local governments, labor and management.

Since local autonomy started in the early 1990s, local governments have adopted confrontational politics with the central government, while engaging in conflicts and tension among themselves. Since 1987, labor and management have been engaged in many wasteful and destructive confrontations.

We cannot establish a harmonious and cooperative society in a few years. In the year 2000, efforts for harmony and cooperation among the governments, and labor and management should be made for a new century and a new millennium.

In Korea, the central government has long dominated local governments, and it does not have any mechanisms to liberate local governments. Local autonomy has been a term of mere rhetoric. The central government collects the national tax revenue which is about 80 percent of all governmental revenues, while all local governments collect about 20 percent or less. This is a pitiful arrangement. The central government, needless to say, sends the money to local governments via grants-in-aid, subsidies and transfers of funds. That is not fair. There should be a 50-50 distribution of the tax revenues between the central government and all local governments. This is the case in the United States and other advanced nations.

I hereby propose a new constitutional convention, if necessary, to discuss the proper distribution of work and revenues between the central government and local governments. In the United States, income tax is the major revenue source of the federal government, while sales tax is the major revenue source of state and local governments, along with property taxes for local governments. The social security fund, coupled with national tax revenues, makes the federal government revenue bigger than all state and local government revenues together.

The Korean tax system is complex, and should be simplified. By all means, local governments should have their own programs or works that differ from the national government's tasks such as diplomacy, national defense, and macro-economic policy-making. …

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