Thursday, March 3, 2011

‘Asian Games left Guangzhou in huge debt’

Beijing: A controversy has broken out over China's massive spending on last year's Asian Games in Guangzhou city after a local legislator claimed the sporting extravaganza had left the city with a debt of USD 32 billion.

While the Chinese authorities are yet to provide breakdown of the money spent on the Games, Zhong Nanshan, a deputy with the Guangzhou People's Congress said there was a big financial gap after the local authorities invested what he claimed was 257.7 billion yuan (USD 38.4 billion) on the the sporting spectacle.

Zhong said that after the Games the city is left with a 210 billion yuan (USD 32 billion) debt, which also included the previous outstanding loans.

"How will the city government find the money to improve people's living standards with such heavy debts to pay in the years ahead?" Zhong was quoted as saying

However, Zhang Jieming, director of Guangzhou finance bureau claimed that the income and expenditure for the Asian Games had balanced.

"I don't know what sources Zhong Nanshan cited. You reporters should ask him how he got his figure," Zhang told the official media.

The expenditure directly used for the games was 13.6 billion yuan, (USD two billion) with more than 100 billion yuan (USD 15 billion) also invested in improving urban infrastructure during the past five years, Zhang said.

"I haven't exchanged views on the games budget with Zhong. So far, there has not been a complete financial report. This is normal. There are several figures related to the games budget and we will unveil the official financial accounts at the proper time," Zhang said.

Many other deputies at the local People's Congress have joined Zhong in calling on the government to unveil its official report on the cost of the games.

"Guangzhou's budget income was less than 100 billion yuan last year. Where does this huge investment in the games come from? The government should give the public an explanation," Zheng Jingping, a deputy with the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress was quoted as saying.

Prior to the games' opening, Guangzhou Mayor Wan Qingliang said the investment in the games had been kept within the budget and amounted to about 120 billion yuan, (USD 18 billion).

Guangzhou, one of China's highly industrialised cities, hosted the 16th Asian Games and the Asian Para Games in November and December last year.

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