Hong Kong government set to spend HK$640 million to celebrate anniversary of city’s handover
Questions raised over the amount, which is more than nine times the bill in 2007
Taxpayers in Hong Kong can expect to foot a bill of HK$640 million for the 20th anniversary celebrations of the city’s handover from Britain to China, according to the latest official figures.
The amount is more than nine times the HK$69 million bill in 2007 for the 10th anniversary, prompting questions on whether the spending this year is necessary.
In a document submitted to the Legislative Council, the government revealed more than 300 events would be held in the city and another 200 or so would be organised on the mainland and overseas to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1.
The paper said HK$640 million had been set aside for the celebrations, which came under the theme of “Together, Progress, Opportunity”.
Civil Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said the events did not justify the $640 million price tag.
“Most of the events are not related to the theme of handover,” he said. “What makes Hong Kong special is our history, our rule of law and our procedural justice... but the activities are just like promotions launched by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to me.
“It is a pity that the celebration has turned into a formality.”
About HK$194 million of the total budget is set aside for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to hold cultural and sports events, including major exhibitions such as “Inventing le Louvre: From Palace to Museum over 800 Years”, co-organised by the Musee du Louvre; “EternalLife– Exploring Ancient Egypt”, co-organised by the British Museum; as well as “Celebrating Imperial Birthdays in the Qing Dynasty” and “Yangxindian Exhibition from Palace Museum”, co-organised by the Beijing Palace Museum.
Mega sports events include the World Snooker Master Challenge, the Volvo Ocean Race and the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Meanwhile, another $165 million is earmarked for activities by the Economic and Trade Offices and the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The mainland and overseas offices of the government will hold exhibitions, arts and cultural activities, gala dinners and youth or student programmes.
A Celebrations Coordination Office, set up to help ensure all the events run smoothly, has a director and 55 temporary civil service posts. Most of the positions will no longer be available in the third quarter of 2017. The expenditure of the office is estimated to be HK$20.7 million.
Most of the HK$640 million will go towards:
Home Affairs Bureau: HK$76 million
- arts and culture (HK$32.6 million),
- sports and leisure(HK$22.4 million),
- youth volunteerism (HK$300,000),
- operation of the Celebrations Coordination Office (HK$20.7 million).
Leisure and Cultural Services Department: HK$194 million
- cultural exhibitions such as “Inventing le Louvre: From Palace to Museum over 800 Years”, co-organised by the Musee du Louvre, “Eternal Life –Exploring Ancient Egypt”, co-organised by the British Museum, “Celebrating Imperial Birthdays in the Qing Dynasty” and the “Yangxindian Exhibition from Palace Museum”, co-organised by the Beijing Palace Museum
- sporting events including the World Snooker Master Challenge, the Volvo Ocean Race and the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Home Affairs Department (including 18 District Offices): HK$29 million
Information Services Department: HK$67 million
- roving exhibitions on Hong Kong’s achievements in the past 20 years and opportunities for the future at shopping malls
Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (including mainland offices): HK$43 million
- exhibitions, arts and cultural activities, gala dinners or receptions, youth or student programmes and film festivals
Commerce and Economic Development Bureau: HK$165 million
- overseas economic and trade offices (HK$72 million)
- the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HK$70 million)
- Communications and Creative Industries Branch (HK$18 million)
- Commerce, Industry and Tourism Branch (HK$5 million)