Guangzhou Asian Games were HK$3.7b over budget, say auditors
Auditors have exposed a multibillion-yuan blowout in the operating budget for Guangzhou's Asian Games last year, as well as hundreds of other problems with organising the event - from venue tenders to construction failures.
According to provincial audit figures posted on the Guangdong government website yesterday, the Games organisers went about 3 billion yuan (HK$3.7 billion) over the official 13.6 billion yuan budget detailed in March by Zhang Jieming , director of the Guangzhou Finance Bureau, who insisted at the time that the expenditure was 'basically within budget'. The audit was restricted to operational expenses and did not cover controversial spending on infrastructure and urban facelifts to prepare Guangzhou for the Games, outlays that one critic estimated could have cost more than 200 billion yuan.
In their auditing of the financial records for the 2010 Asian Games and Asian Para Games, provincial auditors found more than 500 problems - including contractual, procurement and construction irregularities associated with eight sporting venues. Unauthorised subcontractors carried out about 220 million yuan in construction work on those venues.
The auditors said 3 million yuan in design contracts for three of the venues was not awarded through an open tender. There were also major problems with construction quality, including a dripping roof at the swimming and diving venue, cracks in concrete floors in a Zengcheng stadium and substandard fire-retardant materials in a Guangzhou gymnasium.
However, most of the reported problems have been fixed, according to the auditors.
Spending on the extravagant Guangzhou Asian Games has been a controversial issue, with many questioning the real cost of hosting the event.
Guangzhou mayor Wan Qingliang initially said that 122.6 billion yuan would be spent on the Games. This figure included actual operating costs, and outlays on various infrastructure projects and urban renewal programmes to prepare the city for the event.
The vast amount immediately drew criticism for being about five times the amount South Africa spent on hosting the soccer World Cup last year. Official figures put the 2012 London Olympics budget at about ? billion (HK$108.5 billion) and the 2008 Beijing Olympics' budget at 310 billion yuan.
In March, further speculation over the real costs of the Guangzhou Asian Games arose when Sars expert and National People's Congress deputy Dr Zhong Nanshan told a gathering of Guangzhou lawmakers that the city was heavily indebted from the Asian Games and would be short of cash to invest in public services.
Zhong, a provincial opinion leader, said his research showed that Guangzhou spent 257 billion yuan on the event and city was subsequently left with debts of 210 billion yuan.
The amount, in yuan, that was reportedly spent on improving Guangzhou's transport infrastructure