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Taiwan Pavilion covers construction, operating costs

2010/09/20 20:41:20

Shanghai, Sept. 20 (CNA) The Taiwan Pavilion at the WorldExposition Shanghai 2010 has earned enough to cover all the costs ofbuilding and running it for the six-month show, the chairman of theTaiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) said Monday.

The semi-official council, which is responsible for running thepavilion, has collected the full cost of NT$1.1 billion (US$34.75million) through donations from enterprises and the sale of thefacility, Wang Chih-kang said.

As a result, "the government won't have to spend a dime" on theproject of presenting Taiwan at the May 1-Oct. 31 expo that has drawnthe participation of over 240 countries and internationalorganizations, Wang noted.

However, he admitted it was difficult to achieve TAITRA's goal ofsetting up and opening the national pavilion without spending moneyfrom the state coffers.

TAITRA had originally assessed that the cost of running thepavilion would reach NT$1 billion. One month after the opening of thepavilion, however, it was forced to raise the operating budget to NT$1.1 billion because of higher-than-expected facility and personnelcosts.

To cover this massive expenditure, he went on, the council beganseeking funding from Taiwanese and Chinese enterprises and thanks tothe pavilion's increasing popularity among visitors to the expo, manybig enterprises, including the Hon Hai Group, made generousdonations, Wang said.

Last week, TAITRA sold the Taiwan Pavilion to the Hsinchu Citygovernment for NT$458.88 million. According to TAITRA President ChaoYuen-chuan, the pavilion is valued at NT$700 million and is expectedto generate over NT$6 billion in additional benefits for the northerncity in the hotel, restaurant, marketing and transport industries.

The pavilion will be dismantled soon after the Shanghai Expocloses Oct. 31 and shipped back to Taiwan for reassembly.

Meanwhile in Hsinchu City, home to the Hsinchu Science Park, themove of spending such a large sum on an exhibition booth hastriggered public concern that the procurement will sink thedebt-ridden city government into an even deeper financial plight.

Mayor Hsu Ming-tsai said Monday that once the pavilion isoperating in Hsinchu, any profits generated will be ploughed backinto repaying the cost of buying it

Forecasting that the pavilion, which is touted as a landmark ofTaiwan's cultural innovation industry, will attract visitors fromChina once it is erected in Hsinchu, Hsu said he is confident thefacility will be able to cover the purchase cost without creating adrain on the city's coffers.

According to TAITRA officials, the Taiwan Pavilion has proved tobe one of the most popular booths at the Shanghai Expo, drawing morethan 400,000 visitors as of August, and getting rated by the Japaneseweekly "Flash" in June as the best of all the national pavilions atthe expo.

(By Charles Kang, Huang Yen-yu and Elizabeth Hsu)