Tue, Oct 18, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Taipei councilors pan Universiade bid

A COSTLY AFFAIR:The DPP councilors said hosting the events would stretch the city’s finances and could leave a financial mess for Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s successor

By Liu Jung and Huang Chung-jung  /  Staff Reporters

The Taipei City Government’s efforts to host the Universiade in 2017 and the 2019 Asian Games are blatant attempts to boost Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) image and could lead to huge deficits, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors said yesterday.

After hosting the Deaflympics and the Taipei International Flora Exposition, Taipei City Government is prepared to invest another NT$37.5 billion (US$1.2 billion) to host the 2017 Universiade and NT$59 billion for the Asian Games, the councilors said, adding that the city government should hold a referendum on whether to host the events.

Hau said that like the Flora Expo, the two events would “let the world see Taipei” and were part of efforts to promote the city worldwide.

The athletes’ village for the Universiade could even be converted into city-run residential buildings, Hau said.

DPP City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) said the government’s financial capabilities should be taken into account when deciding whether to host the events.

The Deaflympics cost NT$5 billion and the International Flora Expo another NT$14 billion, Wu said, adding that both events caused some budget problems.

Seventy-two percent of Taipei’s secondary reserve funds were injected into the flora expo and the public had no say on how the money was spent, Wu said, adding that the investment in the Universiade and the Asian Games would account for more than half of Taipei’s NT$180 billion annual budget.

“It’s an astronomical figure,” Wu said, adding that such amount would be sufficient to build another Wenhu MRT line.

DPP City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) said the Hau administration was using international events as a panacea.

Such decisions could leave a financial mess for Hau’s successor and risk sacrificing the general development of the city, Lee said, adding that the city council was not notified of the decisions and residents had no idea of how the funds were being spent.

“It’s like advancing a check with the people’s hard-earned money,” Lee said.

Taipei would have to spend close to NT$31.4 billion on facilities, such as an athletes’ village, Lee said, adding that the Hau administration’s listing of the controversial Taipei Dome as the location for the Universiade’s opening ceremony was a blatant use of the event to hand out favors to corporations “against the will of the people.”

Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer

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