• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm
NewsHong Kong

Mega Events Fund criticised for overstating attendances and expenditure 'irregularities'

Watchdog also slams unit of the Tourism Commission for failing to document claimed expenses

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 5:39pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2014, 12:04pm

The audit watchdog has lashed out at the Mega Events Fund for overstating the turnout at its events and a host of other "irregularities", including event organisers' failure to show invoices for expenses.

Since 2009, the fund has received HK$250 million to provide financial support for local non-profit-making organisations to host arts, cultural and sports events.

In a report published yesterday, the Audit Commission criticised the fund's secretariat, formed from staff of the Tourism Commission, for exaggerating attendance figures at its events and the number of jobs it had created.

The secretariat had claimed that up to March 2012, some 900,000 people had taken part in its events and that 10,000 jobs had been created.

The watchdog said many of the turnout figures were for events held in open areas, where passersby could just come and go. "Most of the jobs created were extremely short term and temporary in nature, with many lasting for one to a few days only, and would have little or no impact on the labour market," the report says.

For one event, understood to be the Dragon and Lion Dance Extravaganza held on January 1 this year, the organiser was granted HK$1.5 million. The fund claimed that at least 3,100 paid jobs would be created.

The organiser later reported that only 1,850 jobs had been created. And the watchdog found that at least 410 of the jobs were for primary school and kindergarten students, whose tasks could not be considered a job.

The report also pointed to what it called "irregularities" in three one-day events held from 2011 to 2013. No invoices or staff payroll records were furnished to prove total expenses of HK$3.9 million.

The watchdog also hit out at the Tourism Commission for not having set conditions in funding agreements to govern the distribution of tickets.

For one event, understood to be the Hong Kong Open golf tournament in 2012, which received HK$15 million, 93 per cent of tickets were given away free to parties including the venue provider and sponsors.

That meant that only 7 per cent were available for golf lovers.

The watchdog said there was an "urgent need" for the Tourism Commission to step up checks and its control over the operation of events.

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, under which the Tourism Commission falls, said it "generally agreed" with the observations and recommendations in the report.

Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, chairman of the Mega Events Fund's assessment committee, said all applications went through a "stringent system" before they were either approved or rejected.

The fund has approved some 24 events since it was established.



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This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
It is known that even the expenditure of a subsidized local school's extra-curricular activities has to provide invoices, though the sum of expediture might be just a very small sum. And every purchase of equipment or stuff has to be done after comparing prices of the same item of at least three suppliers.I wonder why there is no invoices in the expeditures of these so-called Mega Events funded by public money---is it another type of business-government collaboration ? The chairman of the Mega Events Fund Assessment Committee has to offer the public a detailed and persuasive explanation maybe !
Seems like several prime cases for the Police and ICAC to investigate and make arrests. Not just these organizers defrauding us, but those two incompetent motherfuggers running and chairing the MegaEvents Fund and the Tourism Commission. Who are they again? Oh yes, Jeffrey Lam and James Tien. Thank God Henry Tang didn't win otherwise his cronies would be everywhere not just here.
Fabricating of attendance and employment figures alone warrant an investigation. We cannot let these clowns take charge of public money.
Snouts in the trough again! Yet another useless Quango full of well connected people who are short of ideas and talent but have inflated opinions of their non existent abilities. This fund should be
curtailed and the money better spent on providing more facilities for the disabled.
Mega White Elephant Fund? So much corruption and so little time. ICAC where are you? Seems ICAC and not the auditor should be investigating all govt departments.
Corporate governance HK style - keep it all in the family. Take one look at the Tourism Board and you will see it is just a bunch of golf club and hk club mates who ensure they get a piece of the pie ...
Is anyone even surprised by this?.................All these organizations created by the government just gives more opportunities for the people they appoint to abuse public funds............These problems are coming up now but actually all started in the Donald Tsang days when that incompetent idiot created all these issues that are coming up now..........and, we are still awaiting the verdict on Bowtie Tsang.
Step up the pace "HK Government" and take some action and do justice on crooked government officials like Donald Tsang and Co.
seems like Jeffrey Lam has been caught well and truly on the wrong side of the road again but this time cannot blame the rain - ah yes a lawmaker & Exco member the height of supposed integrity & common sense with a duty of care to the people of HKG instead of divisive reporting
As for the Tourism Board promoting the LO cust swarm what else would one expect in the Liberal stronghold when the Executive Director is ex marketing head of Philip Morris Singapore, since tobacco companies are staffed by such reliable people and leopards do not change their spots
Bureaucratic perfidy! The Audit Commission can second their bean-counters to the Tourism Board for the next 2 years?


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