The organiser of a dragon dance parade lambasted in a government watchdog's report for its messy accounts has again delayed the submission of financial statements to the government.
The Dragon and Lion Dance Extravaganza has received HK$5.3 million from the government's Mega Events Fund since 2011 for its annual New Year's Day event. It received HK$1.5 million for this year's parade on January 1 in Tsim Sha Tsui.
In a damning report on the fund last month, the Audit Commission pointed out that invoices and payroll details from one event were missing, sparking concerns about misuse of public money. The dance extravaganza is understood to be that event.
The organising committee, which includes at least five members of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, had a deadline of May 1 to submit financial reports for this year's event to the Tourism Commission, which oversees the fund.
The deadline was extended until Wednesday, but was not met. The commission confirmed it had received a report on attendance figures but not an audited financial statement. The organiser should submit it "as soon as possible", a spokeswoman said.
But lawmaker and organising committee member Chan Kam-lam said he was pressing auditors to complete their work. "May 1, 3, 4 and 6 were all holidays, leaving only two working days [to work on the financial statement] during the week," he said.
In the funding agreement with the government, the organiser undertook to create 3,000 jobs for performers this year. The eventual figure was 1,850 performers. The audit report, which did not identify the parade by name, although it could clearly be identified from the details of the event described, found that 410 of the "jobs" went to children from primary schools and kindergartens, who could not be regarded as "paid" performers.
Media reports later said pupils from at least five primary schools volunteered for the extravaganza. It was not clear whether they were considered "employees".
The Democratic Party has referred the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption but has yet to hear back.
"Faking information to get public funding is deception," said party chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting, a former investigator for the graft-buster. "If the ICAC does not start an investigation, I will take the case to the police."