Tue, Sep 04, 2012 - Page 3 News List

‘Costly’ Flower Expo is blasted by lawmakers

NOT TO BE SNEEZED AT:Legislators across party lines have slammed a new tranche of funding for the event which officially ended last year

By Lee Yu-hsin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Legislators across party lines yesterday lambasted the Council of Agriculture for allotting NT$221 million (US$7.3 million) to the Flower Expo and threatened to slash the council’s budgets during the new legislative session.

Legislators criticized the council in 2010 prior to the International Flora Exposition for providing the Taipei City Government with NT$3.5 billion in subsidies, saying that it was akin to burning money.

Despite plans to cut the subsidy to Taipei City Government, next year’s budget estimate sent by the council to the Legislative Yuan continued to list NT$221 million for the maintenance and operation of all the park’s facilities.

According to a report from the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) in September last year, the council said the subsidy which totaled NT$663 million, originally allotted for last year had been reassigned to post-exposition maintenance and were divvied up into three parts of NT$220 million each and doled out to the Taipei City government for this year through 2014 after legislators discussed the issue.

However, the National Audit Office’s (NAO) final accounting report for last year said there was a serious discrepancy between the exposition’s actual income and investment, showing that the total income from tickets and souvenir sales fell far behind actual expenditure, which hit nearly NT$10 billion.

The office’s report further said that the 13 exhibition halls kept after the conclusion of the exposition — with the exception of the Pavilion of Regimen — are constructions built with “temporary basis” building permits.

The Taipei city government had not completed the process of applying for continued exposition and the budget for the development of the exposition halls are large, the report wrote, showing that the Taipei City government lacked a thorough assessment of the exposition’s future development.

The report also said that the NAO had sent official notice to the Taipei City Government asking for it to review the matter and make improvements on the issue.

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