Taipei councilors call for closure of expo foundation

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Fri, May 03, 2013 - Page 3

The Exhibition Foundation, a semi-official organization funded by the Taipei City Government to operate the venues of the Taipei International Flora Expo, suffered a loss of about NT$400 million (US$13.5 million) last year and should be dissolved, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors said yesterday.

The foundation, established in 2011 to sustain the exhibition venues following the six-month exposition, has received a total of NT$1.3 billion from the Taipei City Council since its establishment.

However, it reported a loss of NT$398 million last year, said DPP Taipei City Councilor Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤).

The foundation held 26 activities in the past two years, ranging from food fairs, flea markets and music concerts to the Dadaocheng Fireworks Festival, which attracted about 310,000 visitors per month, to meet the city council’s demand that the venues should attract 3 million visitors every year.

However, the foundation “spent NT$22 million over the past two years to hold 26 activities that were mostly food fairs or singing contests that did not meet the purpose of promoting diverse and professional expositions via the venues,” Wu told a press conference.

She also questioned the foundation’s practice of subcontracting all activities to public relations agencies.

Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) added that 65 percent of the cases were commissioned to the same public relations agency — Origin Integrated Marketing — raising questions about the foundation’s relations with the agency.

“The foundation has its own marketing and public relations departments, but still paid private agencies to organize activities. The city government should just close the foundation as it is a financial burden and has not done its work,” he said.

Exhibition Foundation deputy director Chen Wen-shou (陳文鑠) said that the Flora Expo Park attracted 3.6 million visitors last year, and said public relation agencies were only responsible for facilities and props for activities.

He said the rent for spaces at the expo venues is about one-tenth of those at Taipei World Trade Center, and the park offers affordable exposition venues for smaller companies.

The six-month expo, which ran from November 2010 to April 2011, was one of the largest international events organized by the city government. The city government had promised to use the expo sites and exhibition halls for performances or for floral exhibitions once the event ended.