The successful bidder for the West Kowloon Cultural District could face a bill as high as $50 billion for the arts component of the project. Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan yesterday clarified in a meeting with two lawmakers that developers would have to pay the cost of construction of the controversial canopy, art and cultural facilities and an automated train service. This is in addition to an upfront $30 billion payment to a trust fund for the operation and maintenance of the facilities. Independent legislator Albert Cheng King-hon estimated the construction cost could stretch the total investment on the arts component of the hub to at least $50 billion. The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors put the construction cost of the arts facilities at about $12 billion, taking the total bill to $42 billion. 'If it's $50 billion, I would not participate in the project [if I was a developer] because there's not much profit to be made,' Mr Cheng said after the meeting. Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung yesterday said the $30 billion for the trust fund was only an assumption which was subject to changes according to annual returns and inflation. 'If these factors change in the future, the amount will be adjusted. But it will be in no relation to the profit,' he said. Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said the new requirement for the winning bidder to carve out at least half of the residential and commercial gross floor area for other developers was in response to public opinion and to encourage competition. She said there would be mechanisms to prevent the winning developer owning all the best land at the site. Spokesmen for Henderson Land Development and the joint bid of Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong (Holdings) yesterday declined to comment on the new model for the project, saying they were now studying the revised plan. Henderson chairman Lee Shau-kee said on Friday that his company would go ahead with the project if they won, even if the profit margin was small. The government will have to start the cultural hub project all over again if two bidders decided to drop out. But Mr Cheng believed the government already had a back-up plan. The three shortlisted bidders have until the end of January to decide whether they want to stay in the running for the project.