SEOUL, The South Korean government on Wednesday dismissed opposition parties' criticism that it underreported the actual cost of implementing inter-Korean summit agreements, saying that it just focused on projects that could be carried out in the short term.
On Tuesday, the unification ministry sent to the National Assembly a motion for ratification of the April inter-Korean summit declaration. It also attached to the motion an estimate of the cost of implementing part of the summit agreement next year, which amounts to 298.6 billion won (US$264.8 million).
"The estimate was calculated mostly in consideration of projects that have been shaping up such as modernizing and connecting railways and roads; cooperation in forestry, social and cultural sectors; along with reunions of separated families," a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
Opposition political parties criticized the government for intentionally concealing what could be an astronomical amount of money needed to implement the summit agreements.
In the April summit, the two Koreas agreed to work together in promoting balanced economic development and co-prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.
They have held working-level meetings ever since to discuss cooperation in such areas as railways, roads and forestry. They also held temporary reunions of families separated by the Korean War.
The official said that it is hard to measure the exact cost of implementing all summit deals at this moment as many of them require consultations with the North to determine the exact business range.
Following the inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang in October 2007, the unification ministry reportedly submitted to a lawmaker its cost estimate of about 14.3 trillion won for executing all of the inter-Korean projects their leaders agreed on.
The official dismissed the figure as "unofficial," adding that the government has not drawn up any cost estimate -- official or unofficial -- for carrying out all the inter-Korean projects that could be pursued as part of the April summit agreement.
Source: Yonhap News Agency