Net hums with anger at huge cost of Games
The total investment in the Asian Games, set to open in Guangzhou in 28 days, will exceed 100 billion yuan (HK$116 billion), and when news of the figure circulated yesterday on the internet, many mainlanders were shocked.
Guangzhou Mayor Wan Qingliang revealed the figure at a press conference on Wednesday, saying the investment - while believed to be the costliest Asian Games ever - was still within the budget.
But many internet users railed at the cost, saying authorities were wasting public money to please foreigners for just a couple of weeks.
'Is it really worth spending so much money for the Games? We still have many people living below the poverty line,' an internet user from Suzhou, Jiangsu , posted on Sohu.com.
A user from Tianjin posted on 163.com that the large amount of money invested in cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou only widened the wealth gap between the cities and the countryside.
'Can we think about how ordinary people can benefit from these 'face projects'?' the user asked.
Wan explained during the press conference that of the total 122.6 billion yuan spent, 6.3 billion yuan was spent building 12 new venues and renovating 58 existing facilities, 7.3 billion yuan was budgeted for the operational cost of the event, and 109 million yuan had been invested to build infrastructure and environmental protection projects.
He said the Asian Games provided a great opportunity for the city to launch infrastructure projects, including the expansion of the subway system, the building of roads and bridges, and environment protection projects to treat water, clean up the Pearl River and reduce air pollution.
'We hope to upgrade people's quality of life by holding the Asian Games,' Wan said.
Wang Zechu, an adviser to the Guangdong provincial government, said: 'I do not know whether it is the most expensive Asian Games ever, but it looks that its expenditure is very close to the budgets for the London Olympic Games.'
Official figures put the budget for the 2012 Olympics at about GBP9 billion (HK$112 billion).
Wang said public anger was mainly directed towards a lack of transparency.
'Of course, people like to have a better environment and better transport. They are angry because the government did not tell them the plan and consult with them in advance,' Wang said, adding that the government should detail how it collects the money and spends the money and how much debt it will repay.
Several million Guangzhou residents have been inconvenienced for more than a year by large construction projects, the repainting of most external walls of buildings along main streets and the repaving of dozens of roads.
Local media have repeatedly reported cases of waste during the preparation for the Games.
Birds of a feather
The cost of the Asian Games is similar to the 2012 Olympics budget
Official figures put the budget for the London Olympics at about GBP9 billion, or in HK dollars: $112b