Taipei Dome isn't banks' burden: Taipei mayor

Taipei Dome isn't banks' burden: Taipei mayor
Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday said he did not ask local banking groups to take over the responsibilities of the Taipei Dome from local construction consortium Farglory Group.

The dome's construction and managing company had missed a key deadline for acquiring a new license for continuing construction on the dome on Monday, June 15.

The deadline was imposed after Ko's administration turned down Farglory's extension application on Feb. 17 this year, after the consortium failed to deliver the dome on Dec. 28, 2014 as agreed upon in the original contract.

Following the expiration of the deadline, the company is currently in a state of contract breach and illegitimate operation.

On Monday, Ko had said that the city government's Taipei Dome Project Task Force had convened to formulate four response strategies regarding the company's failure to complete city government-ordered modifications and repair work by the deadline.

Though the mayor had veiled the strategies from local media and the public, a previous statement from Taipei Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi had revealed the basic ideas of the said strategies.

One of the plans, which was confirmed as an option by Teng yesterday, would enable the city government to transfer the responsibilities of the dome from Farglory to bank organisations.

Teng said in accordance with Article 19.4 of the build-operate-transfer contract between Taipei and the consortium, the city has the right to report the company's failures to complete required tasks by a set deadline to the dome's financing institutions, so as to determine whether such banking organisations should take over the project.

The city will also hold meetings with the said banking organisations for further discussions, Teng said, and Farglory will be tasked with completing the construction of the dome's foundation should banks be willing to take over the dome's responsibilities.

However, bank groups were reportedly surprised by Teng's announcement, with several executives saying that they do not understand the definition of the dome's "responsibilities."

Ko and MOF Stress Takeover is Only a Recommendation

In response to the potential transfer of the dome's responsibilities, Farglory's spokesman Yang Shun-chin came forward yesterday to say that the Taipei government is constantly going back on its own words.

Yang also said that the company is willing to make any proper negotiations with any party if necessary.

During a press conference yesterday, Ko clarified what Teng had intended to say, and stated that neither he nor the city is telling local banks to take over the responsibilities of the Taipei Dome.

Ko said that the regulations and contracts must be honoured, and not imposed at the say-so of a government organisation. As such, it is the city's duty to first communicate and discuss with banks before any ideas are set in stone.

The mayor also said that his administration has abided by their policy and mission since the day he took office, unlike what Yang's statement suggested.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) also backed the mayor yesterday, stating that Ko merely wants to communicate with local banks.

The debate on whether it is proper or necessary for banks to take over the dome is nonexistent, said Deputy Finance Minister Wu Tang-chieh, since Ko and his administration did not directly suggest a takeover evaluation from local banks.

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