Be careful of hosting international events
Local authorities have been aggressive in hosting different international events such as exhibitions and festivals. Their aim is to let their provinces or cities be better known to the world by publicizing their culture and peculiarities to foreign participants and visitors.
But now, governors and majors should be more careful about hosting those events as many of them have been poorly organized and caused huge losses to the nation. In fact, most heads of local authorities have recklessly staged international events based on irresponsible campaign pledges.
Without thinking about feasibility or budget, candidates for governors and mayors have usually promised to hold various events and festivals in a bid to be elected. For this reason, it is hard to expect any of such events to produce successful results. In a nutshell, the authorities have wasted taxpayers’ money for unaffordable events.
According to the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), the nation’s local autonomy units had spent a combined total of 1.06 trillion won ($1 billion) in organizing 26 international events between 2008 and 2010. The tally targeted the events, each of which obtained state support of 1 billion won or more.
The BAI discovered that the events inflicted a combined loss of 867.8 billion won on the organizers. It may not be proper to estimate all the events from a financial point of view. Some should be held to promote cultural and human exchanges without worrying about financial resources. But these must be carefully planned and well organized to achieve their goals.
We have to admit that most of the 26 events lacked proper planning and due process of organization. Fourteen of them failed to attract enough foreign visitors, virtually ending up local, not international, ones. Critics call on the authorities to allocate more budgets for education and welfare, instead of such events.
One typical case is South Jeolla Province’s hosting of the Formula One Korean Grand Prix which started last year and continues until 2016. The province vowed to make the race turn a profit. However, it is expected to suffer a 485.5 billion won loss over the whole period. Incheon City recorded a 15.2 billion won in loss from staging the Global Fair & Festival 2009.
The central government should strengthen its screening of local authorities’ applications for international events in order to prevent reckless hosting and avoid wasting money. Residents also must step up their efforts to monitor municipal and provincial governments to make sure that their tax money is spent properly.