Deputies seek answers on Asian Games budget
Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
People's Congress deputies in Guangzhou have urged the city to explain how the budget for last year's Asian Games went from 2 billion yuan (HK$2.36 billion)to 120 billion yuan. (Unofficial estimates put the costs at more than 250 billion).
The call came during the annual meeting of the city's legislature this week.
Members said the Games budget was excessive. It amounted to roughly five times South Africa's expenditure on the soccer World Cup.
The Guangzhou Daily yesterday quoted the widely respected flu expert Dr Zhong Nanshan as saying that Guangzhou was heavily in debt after the Asian Games.
Zhong, who is also a deputy of the city's congress, said: 'From my research, the total investment in the Asian Games should be 257 billion yuan. Of which, Guangzhou has promised more than 195 billion yuan and landed a heavy debt.
'With such a heavy debt ahead, where will the city find the money to improve people's livelihoods?'
Zhong said the central government should consider chipping in more for the Asian Games, just as it had done for Beijing's Olympic Games and Shanghai's World Expo.
The Yancheng Evening News cited people's congress deputy Ge Hongyi, the dean of law at South China University of Technology, as saying on Tuesday that the public were aware that the organisers of the Asian Games had not been thrifty.
'Can the authorities stop repeating the line that the Asian Games were a very prudent one?' Ge told the meeting.
Guangzhou's deputy propaganda chief, Luo Jingjun, fired back: 'If there wasn't an Asian Games, Guangzhou wouldn't be enjoying its current international status.'
Another people's congress deputy, Sun Yat-sen University law professor Huang Jianwu, said the government had pledged to the State Council in 2005 that the Asian Games budget would not exceed 2 billion yuan.
'The government at first said it would take 2 billion yuan and ended up increasing its budget several times after that,' Huang said. 'Have the authorities ever consulted the people's congress? Has it ever been approved by the congress?
'I believe there are reasons behind it, however, has the government ever respected the congress and the opinion of its people before making such a hasty decision?
'Making such a hasty decision without consulting the public will make people think the city is not democratic enough. Can Guangzhou set an example of democratic rule to the rest of the country?'
Panyu district deputy Chen Guoan questioned exactly where the 120 billion yuan went. Chen said no reports had been released explaining the high cost of the Games.
'This is about the credibility of our government. [The accounts] should be subjected to public auditing,' Chen said.
Meanwhile, The Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday that the Games were expected to land the city with a further bill for 380 million yuan.
This was to pay for receptions, volunteer projects and to set up an archive of Asian Games-related information.
Tracking the money
Dr Zhong Nanshan puts the full cost of the Games at 257 billion yuan
Guangzhou, he says, is responsible for paying this much of the debt, in yuan: 195b