UPDATE : 2019.12.13 FRI 09:50
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Parties reach agreement on gov't reorganization bill

Rival parties agreed Thursday to pass a bill on government reorganization after an intense tug of war, giving a much-needed boost to President Moon Jae-in's efforts to complete his nascent administration.

The National Assembly is set to hold a plenary session later in the day to put the bill to a vote, the officials said.

The agreement followed days of grueling negotiations and was announced by the vice floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, main opposition Liberty Korea Party, People's Party and Bareun Party.

Under the agreement, the Small and Medium Business Administration will be elevated to a ministry supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, venture startups and microbusinesses.

A new vice-ministerial trade negotiations bureau will be installed in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, while the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning will be given a new name, roughly translated as the Ministry of Science, Technology and ICT.

The renamed science ministry will have a vice-ministerial "science innovation headquarters."

As proposed in the original bill, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security will be dissolved while the Coast Guard and the fire service under the ministry will be separated to function as independent bodies.

The currently vice-ministerial chief of the Patriots and Veterans Affairs Ministry will be elevated to a minister, while the presidential security office will be retooled into the vice-ministerial organization.

During the negotiations, the major bone of contention was a proposal to have the environment ministry take control of all water-related functions held by the land ministry. Critics say that under the proposal, all water projects would be viewed from an "environmentalist standpoint."

The parties decided to form a special parliamentary panel to further discuss the issue by the end of September.

Meanwhile, the parties have yet to narrow their differences on an 11.2 trillion won (US$9.9 billion) extra budget bill, with opposition parties rejecting the proposal to use state coffers for creating public-service jobs. (Yonhap)

The vice floor leaders of the ruling and opposition parties hold the document detailing their agreement on a government reorganization bill during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on July 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

Sean Kim  edt@koreapost.com

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