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Ten major institutional improvements by the ACRC, which changed people’s lives in 2020

Date
26-01-2021
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Ten major institutional improvements by the ACRC, which changed people’s lives in 2020

- Contributed to eradication of injustice/inequality by ▴exemption/deferment of water bills for small business owners ▴restriction of payment of incentives for corrupt employees of public institutions -

 

December 21, 2020

Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission

The Republic of Korea

 

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (Chairperson Jeon Hyun-Heui, hereinafter “ACRC”) introduced 10 cases of institutional improvements implemented by the ACRC in 2020 for anti-corruption and resolution of people’s grievances for the purpose of eradicating injustice in people’s everyday lives and realizing an inclusive society.

 

The ACRC has made recommendations for institutional improvements to prevent corruption and injustice and to fundamentally resolve inconveniences for people which frequently take place due to unreasonable systems. Here are introduced major cases of such institutional improvements that had actual positive effect on people’s lives during the year, which were selected by 1,503 people by voting on People’s Idea Box from December 8 to 17.

 

#1. Alleviation of the burden of water/gas bills for small business owners (May 25. recommendation)

Burden of paying for water and gas which are essential public utilities for people’s daily lives was alleviated by exempting or temporarily deferring water bills for small business owners and people of vulnerable social groups who are suffering from financial difficulties due to COVID-19. Such action resulted in 50 to 100 percent reduction of water charges for people in many local communities including Gwangmyeong-si and Wando-gun.

In addition, gas charges incurred by gas leak, not by carelessness of users, were exempted, while abolishing the releasing fee that had been charged for re-opening of gas supply suspended due to overdue payment. Consequently, revision of the gas supply regulations in Busan-si and Incheon-si, as well as Jeollanam-do has been completed.

 

#2. Restriction of payment of incentive/early voluntary retirement allowance for corrupt employees of public institutions (Oct. 12 recommendation)

The practice of paying excessive incentives even for employees of public institutions who have been given severe disciplinary action for a misconduct is eradicated. Payment of incentive is now banned for a public institution employee who has been given a severe disciplinary action or a disciplinary action for five major misconducts?receiving of grafts/entertainment, embezzlement, sexual violence/harassment, sex trade, and driving under influence.

Plus, public institution employees under the period of promotion restriction due to disciplinary action are unable to receive early voluntary retirement allowance, which is expected to enhance integrity of public institutions and prevent unnecessary waste of public money.

 

#3. Cancellation of contents subscription as easy as purchase (May 11 recommendation )

Fairness has been enhanced for the use of contents subscription services of music, videos, and books which are rapidly growing as a new trend of contact-free consumption for post-COVID times. Notification will be made in advance so that agreement on automatic renewal payment is not done unknowingly. Plus, consumers who have purchased services on mobile application will be able to cancel or get refund of the service on the application, not on PC, to ensure convenience for consumers.

 

#4. Strict restriction of domestic violence assailants’ access to resident registration information of victims (Oct. 26 recommendation)

Cases of secondary violence committed by domestic violence assailants after finding out the address of victims or their parents or children who live separately will be strictly prevented. Domestic violence assailants’ access to resident registration information of family members who live with victims, as well as their parents or children who live separately, is now restricted. In addition, domestic violence assailants’ reading of victims’ resident registration for the reason of interest such as credit/debt is also banned.

 

#5. Free meal vouchers for children easier to use at convenience stores (Jun. 8 recommendation)

List of items that can be purchased with free meal vouchers provided to children from vulnerable families has been widely expanded, so that children do not experience frustration by convenience stores’ refusal of their purchase. So far, the list of items such as cup noodles, fried chicken, and beverages which can be purchased with the voucher differed for each local community. Now, after revision of standard manual for free meal vouchers for children from vulnerable families in this July, all items at convenience stores except for some restricted ones including alcoholic beverage and cigarette, chocolate/candy, and condiment can be freely purchased with the voucher.

 

#6. Failed 1st round of national qualifying exam but can’t get refund of application fee for 2nd round exam? (Sep. 21 recommendation)

In the past, application fees for the first and second rounds of national qualifying exams were collected together, so those who failed in the first round had to pay the fee for second-round test unwillingly. Such unfairness has been resolved. From now on, application fee for first and second rounds of 21 national qualifying exams including tax accountant exam will be charged separately. Plus, for applicants who cannot come to take 37 qualifying exams for an inevitable reason such as death of a family member, application fee will be refunded.

 

#7. Eradication of special favor for rental of public cultural facilities and excessive cancellation charge (Sep. 7 recommendation)

Improper request and special favor for rental of public cultural facilities for exhibition and performance has been eradicated. Special favor of preferential rental opportunity given for certain groups is abolished and the ratio of external members for rental review committees is raised, to strengthen fairness in the process of review and decision on rental. Notably, cancellation charge for rental of such facilities and deposit for contract is now limited within a reasonable extent, which is expected to resolve financial difficulties faced by the performing art and cultural circles due to COVID-19.

 

#8. Lower price, better quality, wider choice: improved system for school uniform purchase (Jul. 20 recommendation)

School uniforms have been purchased by schools collectively since 2015, for the purpose of stabilizing the price. Inconveniences experienced by students and parents in regards to the system of collective purchase of school uniforms have been resolved. Now, female students can choose pants for their school uniform and excessive pricing of frequently-bought school uniform items such as shirt has been banned. From the new semester next year, students will be able to wear more inexpensive but higher-quality school uniforms.

 

#9. No more dismissal of fixed-term teachers before termination of contract (Apr. 20 recommendation)

The practice of discharging fixed-term teachers before termination of their contracts in case of early/temporary return of original teachers who took leave of absence has been eradicated. Guidelines for operation of fixed-term teachers have been amended to abolish the provision of automatic cancellation of contracts for fixed-term teachers in case of early return of teachers who took leave of absence. Plus, the process of advance notification of dismissal and payment of severance pay is systemized, which is expected to resolve confusion at schools caused by discharging of fixed-term teachers before termination of their contracts.

 

#10. No more gap in childcare due to sudden shutdown of daycare centers (May 11. recommendation)

Parents’ grievances caused by sudden shutdown of daycare centers and difficulty to find out another center or kindergarten has been resolved. When a daycare center plans to shut down, such fact should now be notified to parents first and only then its close-down report will be accepted by relevant local government.

In addition, the number of daycare centers for which parents can put their children’s name on the waiting list has been increased from two to three, so that children of daycare centers to be closed down can easily transfer to another center. When the improvement of the system is completed, stable care of children will be provided for children and parents even in the process of close-down of daycare centers.

 

Director General Yang Jong-Sam of the Institutional Improvement Bureau of the ACRC said, “Institutional improvement for eradication of corruption/injustice and protection of people’s rights and interests is getting more and more important. We will continue to monitor the progress of implementation of institutional improvements, so that more people can see the effect of improvement in their everyday lives. We will also keep actively pushing forward with institutional improvements that can resolve grievances of people.”