Mega Events Fund helps city deal with fierce competition
I refer to your editorial ("Mega Events Fund must go", July 14).
The government attaches great importance to the proper use of public money including the Mega Events Fund (MEF). Since the MEF's inception, we have been monitoring and evaluating all events closely.
A system with consistent standards for assessing applications as well as evaluating the performance of events was devised. We put in place financial control measures under the funding agreement and require the event organiser to submit post-event reports, including the final audited accounts prepared by an independent auditor which should disclose any non-compliance by the organiser of any terms and conditions of the agreement.
In addition, the Tourism Commission cross-checks the post-event reports and conducts random inspections of individual income/expenditure items. Financial sanctions were imposed on 10 events which failed to achieve the targets. We will adopt a positive and forward-looking attitude to the recommendations of the Audit Commission and the Public Accounts Committee to further enhance the operation of the Mega Events Fund.
You suggested that the fund should be terminated and pointed out that it had been advised to be shut down years ago. I cannot agree with this comment. The Independent Commission Against Corruption told the Public Accounts Committee in May that in 2010 a member of the Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee said the MEF was a one-off funding scheme set up during a time of financial difficulties and commented on the fund's continuation as the economic situation had changed. Another member of that committee said the Tourism Commission could be more relaxed in exercising its discretion to deplete the funds within the period of three years, and that it should consider returning unused funds to the government.
These views related more to tourism policy than anti-corruption. Nevertheless, the government considered them in its review of the Mega Events Fund in 2011. The review concluded that Hong Kong's economic situation had changed, but we faced fierce competition from neighbouring cities in hosting mega events. The government felt that the fund should be extended and revised in response to such challenges.
Looking ahead, a series of measures have been and will be introduced to improve the fund's operation. The government will consider the way forward for the Mega Events Fund before its expiry in March 2017, and try to bring more attractive mega events to enrich our events calendar.
Philip Yung, commissioner for tourism