December 11, 2008 09:27
Opposition lawmakers are accusing Chong Wa Dae of surreptitiously relaunching the abortive cross-Korea canal project after the presidential office on Wednesday said it will push ahead with major repairs of the country's main waterways, calling it a Korean version of America's New Deal.
Bahk Jae-wan, the presidential secretary for state affairs planning, said in a radio interview on Wednesday that repairing the country's four major waterways could be seen as Korea's New Deal since it is a multi-purpose project that creates jobs, improves water quality, resolves a shortage of water and prevents flooding.
But Park added the cross-Korea canal was a "completely different" project and that the repairs should be seen simply as a move to clean up the major rivers and increase supply of usable water.
But Liberty Forward Party leader Lee Hoi-chang said one look at the budget to repair the major waterways is enough to raise suspicions that it is the first step in the creation of a cross-Korea canal. He said the 2008 budget for the Nakdong River was W183.6 billion but this soared to W446.9 billion next year, up 243 percent. "The spending plan needs to be scrutinized to see whether it is purely for repair purposes."
Democratic Party spokeswoman Kim Yoo-jung said the government's intention to link the waterway repair project with the cross-Korea canal construction was "as plain as day." Prime Minister Han Seung-soo in a press conference denied the accusations and said the project will aid job creation and the revitalization of the economy.
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