The upcoming Taipei International Flora Expo sparked disputes again yesterday as two Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors accused the organizing committee of favoring a media group in a public bid to manufacture and sell souvenirs.
Taipei City’s Department of Economic Development and the organizing committee held three rounds of public bids in 2008 to find a contractor to manufacture and sell expo souvenirs. Ming Sheng Cultural and Communication Co, a subsidiary of the United Daily News Group (UDN Group), won the final bid, despite being disqualified in the first two rounds.
DPP Taipei City councilors Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青) and Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) yesterday detailed the bidding process at a press conference. They alleged that the contents of the company’s first and third bids were 99 percent the same. The amount of the royalties to be paid by the company fell from NT$80 million in the first bid to NT$30 million in the winning bid.
“The company won the bid despite a similar bid and a lower royalties payment to the city government. It’s obvious the city government favored the company because of its relationship with the news group,” Hsu said.
Yen said the two other companies that competed in the final round of bidding — Evergreen Group and Fudy Printing — both had a good reputation and had offered a higher royalties payment to the city government, but they lost out.
“How come a small company with little experience in manufacturing and marketing souvenirs won the bid for the expo?” Yen asked. “There must have been under-the-table deals during the [bidding] process.”
The company’s handling of the account had attracted criticism earlier as it is selling expo souvenirs that were made in China at souvenir shops. The DPP also slammed the city government for giving ticketing for the expo to the news group.
Organizing committee executive director Liu Chia-chun (劉佳均) denied that there were any under-the-table deals with the company or the news group, and said the other two companies also had little experience in the event souvenir business.
“I call on the city councilors not to distort the bidding process and mislead the public. The company won the bid by getting more than 80 percent of the votes of the review committee,” he said.
Liu said the city government agreed to receive less royalties so that the company could keep the cost of products lower to the benefit of consumers.