The National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee on Monday initiated a bill to audit the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) for allegedly interfering with the parliamentary audit in 2017.
The committee also said the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) should investigate the healthcare promotion body’s lax work disciplines and the wrong use of the budget, as well as the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) officials’ inappropriate lectures outside the ministry.
A majority of executives and officials at the KHIDI do not report their external lectures, even though the institute’s code of conduct stipulates that employees should report such occasions, according to the committee.
The KHIDI’s overseas branch in Singapore, in particular, misused the budget, the committee said.
For example, the branch used business expenses at a butcher shop for a meeting and made double payments for translation fees.
The committee also said that even though it had ordered the KHIDI to submit the institute’s audit results, the details of the audit certificate, and details of budget execution by the headquarters and overseas branches during the 2017 parliamentary audit, the KHIDI concealed or omitted some of the materials.
"We have decided to demand an audit because we had a serious suspicion that the KHIDI employees were excessively slacking off and the agency was trying to conceal the problems," the health and welfare committee said.
The committee also asked for the BAI’s audit on the MFDS officials’ external lectures.
In 2016, the MFDS officials left the office during work hour on weekdays to give 718 external lectures, which was 98 percent of the total 747 outside lectures. In 2017, they offered 494 external lectures on weekdays, 95.5 percent of the total 472 lectures.
Under the anti-corruption law, the code of conduct for public officials states the criteria for public officials’ external lectures.
The law states that public officials should not receive money exceeding the amount determined by the head of their agency in return for lectures, speeches, and contributions, about his or her duties. The violation of the law will result in a disciplinary measure.
The committee raised suspicion that the MFDS allegedly received up to 430,000 won ($400) per lecture in breach of the State Public Officials Act, although the ministry had a separate PR budget to cover external lectures.
“Officials reported in their application form for external lectures that their lectures were to be held on weekends so that the lectures would not affect their weekday work commitment. But, the lectures were held on weekdays. The ministry’s internal supervision on the employees’ external lectures is very poor,” the committee said. “That is why we demanded BAI’s audit on the ministry.”
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