Minister of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) Ryu Young-jin took an inappropriate leave while the nation was mired in controversy over the illegal use of pesticides on eggs, an opposition lawmaker said Sunday.
Rep. Kim Soon-raey김순례 of the opposition Liberty Korea Party자유한국당 said Minister Ryu류영진, although he couldn’t use annual leave because he had been at the job less than three months, used three days from Aug. 7-9 as holidays. During the period, Ryu received protocols from employees at Korean Pharmaceutical Association(KPA)대한약사회 and used a company credit card, Kim added.
|Minister of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) Ryu Young-jin|
The ministry said all procedures were legal and didn’t have any problems.
According to Rep. Kim, Minister Ryu took a leave from Aug. 8-9, which violated “the code of conduct about national public servants,” set by the Ministry of Personnel Management인사혁신처.
According to the code, a public servant can use annual leave three months after he or she takes office.
At that time, the investigation on the incident about illegal pesticide use in eggs began amid aggravating public anxiety. Also, a briefing session from the prime minister and a news conference were scheduled during the period.
According to the ministry rules, officials can’t use a company credit card on holidays or at places outside of its jurisdictions, but Ryu used his company card nine times, Kim said.
A ministry spokesman said, however, "Summer vacation and the use of the credit card were all legal."
"Officials who have been at their job less than six months can use a three-day annual leave in advance,” he said. “Minister Ryu took the three-day leave in advance according to Article 9 of the code of conduct, which allows officials who don’t have remaining annual leave to use the leave in advance."
Mindful of public concerns about the egg turmoil, Kim took measures, including the strengthening of the inspection for imported egg and temporarily suspending the distribution of European eggs, before taking leave, and he did his jobs during the vacation, too, the spokesman added.
Also, his vacation was set in July before the incident happened and Ryu followed the instruction of President Moon Jae-in who recommended ministers to take the lead in reinvigorating domestic tour industry by taking on vacation. Kim used vacation based on the approval from the prime minister, and according to proper procedures.
The ministry said the use of the company card was also legal.
"The minister used the corporate card to entertain guests, buy goods, and encourage employees. Also, he used it to buy ice creams to encourage officials when he visited the MFDS chapter in Busan. He didn’t use the card for an illegal purpose," the ministry said.
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