November 17, 2010 13:53
The North Korean regime is enacting sweeping changes to the law to bolster state control. A source familiar with North Korean affairs on Tuesday said four North Korean laws covering economic planning were revised in April and laws governing management of Pyongyang were revised in March.
The revised laws, which the source claims to have seen, "show the central regime's intention to control everything, from the economy to the daily lives of the people." North Korea has changed or enacted at least 17 different laws since November last year, just before a botched currency reform.
The revised economic planning law deletes a phrase in Article 17, which stipulated that the economy is planned "in line with methods that are presented from lower levels." According to the source, the regime inserted the phrase when it announced timid economic reforms in July 2001 in order to give more authority over production to individual factories and businesses. "The deletion of the phrase demonstrates the intention to retrieve that authority," the source said.
Instead, the terms "provisional figures" and "control figures" were revived after their omission in 2001. "The term 'provisional figures' refers to the potential output each factory sets, while 'control figures' represent the actual output amount assessed by the central government," the source said. "So the terms strengthen the centralized economic planning regulations of the past."
In Article 27, a new clause was inserted which reads, "The planning of the people's economy is a legal task." The source said, "This means that the partial freedom given to individual factories over production has now been taken away completely."
The law on the management of Pyongyang, which was revised on March 30, also stresses the role of the state. Originally, maintenance and management of the capital were up to the Pyongyang City People's Committee. But under the revision it falls into the hands of the State Planning Committee and the Cabinet. Also, all Pyongyang residents over the age of 17 have been ordered to carry their resident identification cards at all times.
Also added were articles that bind the central government to guarantee housing and the supply of necessities for the residents of Pyongyang. This shows the clear intention of the regime to take charge of housing and goods supply. "Labor and commercial laws also contain clear intentions to bolster government control," the source said.
Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University, said as conditions worsened after the failed currency reform and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son has been lined up to succeed his father, "the regime seems to feel that tighter internal control is better than aggressive reform. Even if North Korea is looking to partially open up through economic cooperation with China, this will be difficult to achieve with such a conservative approach."
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