A majority of executives working at six state-run institutions under the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) are former ministry officials, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
The six are the National Food Safety Information Service, the Korea Agency of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) Accreditation and Services, the Korea Institute of Drug Safety & Risk Management, the Medical Device Information & Technology Assistance Center, the Korea Orphan & Essential Drug Center, and the Korea Association against Drug Abuse.
According to a report, the ministry submitted to Rep. Yoon Jong-pil of the opposition Liberty Korea Party, 11 executives out of 18 appointed as an institution’s head or a full-time board member were retirees from the ministry.
Since its foundation in 2014, the Korea Agency of HACCP Accreditation and Services has had one leader, who came from the ministry. When the institute was integrated with the Korea Animal Products Accreditation and Services in February, another former MFDS official was appointed as a new head.
Six full-time board members of the Korea Orphan & Essential Drug Center were all former MFDS officials, according to Yoon. At the other remaining institutions subordinate to the ministry, one out of two executives was its former official, respectively.
Of all the executives at institutions under the MFDS, 61 percent were former ministry officials.
They enjoyed high salaries as well. The head of the Korea Agency of HACCP Accreditation and Services was paid the highest at 135 million won ($119,000) won a year, followed by the head of the Medical Device Information & Technology Assistance Center with 112.7 million won, the head of the Korea Institute of Drug Safety & Risk Management with 105 million won, and the head of the Korea Orphan & Essential Drug Center with 96 million won.
Such executive-level appointments at state-run institutions under MFDS have to go through the due process, from putting the public notice of a vacant position to receiving applications and conducting interviews. And the minister of food and drug safety appoints them. Among the six institutions, the minister should nominate three heads and one executive. If the appointment of the head of the APEC Harmonization Center is also made by the minister as planned by MFDS, the minister has to appoint five executives.
“Such institutions subordinate to MFDS are not subject to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance’s business management assessment and enjoy discretion in major issues such as boardroom operation, executive appointments, and budget settlement. Naming former MFDS officials as their executives can hurt transparency,” Rep. Yoon said.
She noted that allowing former MFDS officials to work at related agencies can give them unfair privileges.
“To boost the morale of the employees at state-run institutions, the government needs to encourage internal promotion and name management experts as their heads,” she added.
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