Posted : 2012-07-13 19:41
Updated : 2012-07-13 19:41

'Floating Island full of errors'

The Floating Islands on the Han River in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul. The island project turned out to have been carried out following inappropriate procedures.
/ Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki

15 city officials face disciplinary action

By Yun Suh-young

Seoul City’s special audit team announced Thursday that the previous municipal administration bypassed proper procedure to recklessly press ahead with a controversial Floating Island project.

The team said that the construction project for the island on the Han River turned out to be riddled with "grave errors" and that it had decided to take disciplinary action against 15 officials in charge of the project. The action will include layoffs, salary reductions and reprimands.

The special inspection on the project over the past five years uncovered that the contract between the city government and the business operator Flossom was invalid because it was arbitrarily signed without approval from the City Council.

The proper procedure that should be followed when the city plans to acquire or sell off assets is to gain approval from the council.

The municipal authorities must submit reports on the project’s validity and obtain the council’s approval but apparently the city skipped such a step.

Also, despite the fact that the city government could not change the total investment spent on the project, officials in charge of the project arbitrarily did so twice, increasing the amount from 66.2 billion won to 139 billion won.

They also extended the period that the private firm could use the facilities for free from 20 years to 30 years. Only after 30 years will the city be able to collect the money it spent on the project.

The private firm, on its part, turned out to have exaggerated the cost of building the facilities in order to overcharge the city, inspection results showed. The private operator falsely claimed that the actual dredging operation cost of 100 million won per year was inflated to 1 billion won in a bid to make illicit gains.

The unfair deal also calls for the city to pay 106.1 billion won if the contract is annulled due to a mistake by the business operator or if the latter goes bankrupt.

"The project is full of discrepancies from beginning to end. The project will be recorded as the most problematic private investment project in Seoul’s history," said Kim Sang-beom, deputy mayor of the city government. "We will correct the inappropriate parts of the contract.”

He added that issues arose because the project was implemented rashly.

“The atmosphere among employees was that the project must be completed quickly and this must have created such procedural errors,” he said.

As part of the Han River Renaissance Master Plan initiated by former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, the plan for the Floating Island was set out in 2006 and the building work started in 2009.

The construction was completed in September last year but the facilities are still waiting to be occupied. The island features diverse facilities including a marina, a floating stage and exhibition halls.

Critics say that the Floating Island has become a white elephant.

The inspection was initiated by Mayor Park Won-soon when he found out that the free usage period of the facilities had been arbitrarily extended by city officials.

관련 한글 기사

‘수상복합 세빛둥둥섬 사업, 총체적 부실’

오세훈 전 서울시장이 한강 르네상스 사업을 위해 사활을 걸었던 수상복합 문화시설인 세빛둥둥섬 조성사업이 '총체적 부실' 속에 추진됐다는 서울시의 자체 감사결과가 나왔다.

그러나 시가 세빛둥둥섬 사업 추진에 관여한 공무원들에 대한 징계를 추진, 전임 시장의 정책적 판단에 따라 업무를 수행한 것에 대해 과도한 제재를 하는 것 아니냐는 볼멘소리가 시 내부에서 나오고 있다.

서울시는 지난 1월 말부터 5개월간 세빛둥둥섬 특별감사를 한 결과 시가 세빛둥둥섬 사업자인 ㈜플로섬과 체결한 사업협약이 지방자치법 등 관련 법령이 정한 시의회 동의절차를 무시하는 등 중대한 하자 속에 진행돼 무효 사유에 해당될 수도 있다고 12일 밝혔다.

지방자치법에는 중요재산을 취득하거나 매각할 때 관리계획을 수립해 시의회 의결을 받게 돼 있고 시 조례에도 민자사업 기본계획 고시나 제안공고 이전에 사업 타당성 보고서를 제출해 시의회 동의를 거치도록 규정하고 있다.

사업협약 내용 측면에서도 두 차례나 협약을 변경해 총투자비를 늘리고 무상사용기간을 무리하게 연장하는 등 민자 사업자에게 일방적으로 유리하게 계약이 체결됐다고 시는 설명했다.

시와 플로섬은 협약 변경을 통해 총 투자비를 2배 이상 증액(662억→1천390억)하고, 무상사용 기간을 10년(20년→30년)이나 연장했다.

이는 민자 사업자 부도 등 사업자 귀책사유가 발생한 경우 시가 지급하는 '해지시 지급금'을 올리는 결과를 낳았다고 시는 지적했다.

현재 시점에서 사업협약이 해지되면 시가 사업자에 지급해야 할 해지 지급금은 1천61억에 달하고 SH공사가 투자한 128억도 허공으로 사라지게 된다는 것이다.

사업자가 의도적인 경비 부풀리기를 시도한 사실도 다양하게 발견됐다.

플로섬은 연간 1억원 이하가 적정한 하천준설비를 매년 10억원이 소요(30년간 318억원)되는 것으로 10배 가량 부풀렸다고 시는 강조했다.

주차장운영 등으로 세빛둥둥섬 운영 개시 전에 발생한 수입 49억원을 의도적으로 누락시키고, 사업비 집행잔액 31억원을 2차 변경협약 때 오픈행사비로 새롭게 요구함으로써 약 80억의 총사업비를 부당하게 올리기도 했다고 덧붙였다. (연합뉴스)

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