Park calls for regional governments to improve fiscal health

SEOUL, Oct. 23 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye said Wednesday that regional governments should improve their fiscal health and transparently disclose fiscal information to residents amid concern that debts at local governments have risen dangerously in recent years.

Park made the remark while presiding over the first meeting of the Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development, a presidential committee tasked with developing plans on transferring more of the administrative power and roles from the central government to local authorities.

"Regional governments should voluntarily improve responsibility and transparency. In particular, ensuring regional fiscal health is very important," she said. "I believe that the entire process and fiscal situation of projects and policies that the regional governments undertake should be transparently made public."

Park said an increase in pork-barrel policies contributed to the rise in debts.

Government data showed last week that about half of the 244 regional governments have seen their debts rise by a combined 14.5 trillion won (US$13.7 billion) in the last three years, with debts at the Seoul city government rising 1.9 trillion won alone to 27.4 trillion won at the end of last year.

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