Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) left yesterday on a five-day trip to Finland to secure Taipei’s bid to be the World Design Capital in 2016 amid concerns that the city’s financial difficulties could undermine its ability to host large international events.
Hau, who is attending the closing ceremony for this year’s World Design Capital, Helsinki, will make a speech on Taipei’s innovation and achievements in the fields of art and culture, as well as promote the city’s bid to host the event.
However, the city’s plan has run into challenges from city councilors across party lines, with its budget of more than NT$290 million (US$9.9 million) for the event.
As the city is also preparing to host the 2017 Summer Universiade, which will cost the city at least NT$20 billion, councilors said they were concerned about the city’s finances and urged the city government to cut back its annual expenditure and to stop wasting its budget on large-scale activities.
Hau defended the city’s bid, saying that international activities enhance the city’s image and global competitiveness.
“Helsinki is rated by Newsweek magazine as a city with great potential and the city has enjoyed an economic boost from being the World Design Capital. We believe that Taipei will also benefit from it,” Hau said at Taipei City Hall.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) said given the dispute over the city’s debt ceiling, the city government should not waste more money participating in such international activities.
Hau returns to Taipei on Friday.