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Shanghai Expo to break even, says top official

2009. 27 July

( Next year's Shanghai World Expo is expected to break even and the event, costing nearly twice as much as the Beijing Olympics, may even make a profit, the city's top official said during a TV interview.

    If the city government does make a profit, it will build affordable housing on the Expo site for low-income citizens, Shanghai Party chief Yu Zhengsheng told Hong Kong's Phoenix Satellite TV.

    "I estimate that the investment in the Shanghai Expo can be recovered," Yu said.

    In the history of the World Expo, only a third of organizers made a profit from the global event.

    The organizer of the Hanover Expo in Germany lost more than 1 billion U.S. dollars in 2000, while the Expo Aichi organizer of Japan made a profit of 90 million U.S. dollars in 2005.

    The overall budget for the Shanghai Expo is 28.6 billion yuan (4.19 billion U.S. dollars).

    This is made up of 18 billion yuan for the construction of the Expo site and 10.6 billion yuan for running costs during the May to October event.

    The money from the Shanghai government includes the 100 million U.S. dollars fund to help developing countries take part, Yu said.

    The city will collect the money mainly from Expo construction bonds, ticket income and sponsorship. China's top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, has authorized the Expo organizer to sell 8 billion yuan worth of bonds across the country. Income from the 62 million tickets to be sold is expected to reach 6 billion yuan.

    The city government will also get some money back from the re-exploitation of the Expo land after the event, Yu added.

    The 2008 Beijing Olympics cost 2.3 billion U.S. dollars, including 1.9 billion U.S. dollars for construction of the Olympic venues. The event is reported to have made a profit of 16 million U.S. dollars.

    Yu said investing in the World Expo was worthwhile as it was leading to the city's infrastructure, especially the Metro system, being largely upgraded.

    The city will have a total of 420 kilometers of Metro lines by next April, nearly double the length at the end of 2008.

    "Shanghai can take a big step to settle the traffic problems of local people by holding the Expo," he said.

    "To host the Expo is not to defeat or compare with other countries, but because the Expo can drive scientific and social development, and fuel economic growth," Yu said.

    The Expo will have an "inestimable" long-term effect on the city's economic growth and help the world overcome the global financial crisis, he said.

    The 2010 event is also expected to fuel the city's economy by driving its tourism industry.

    "Some tourism-related stocks are expected to appreciate," said the Party chief.

    He also said the Expo would exhibit many new-energy products and promote energy-saving ideas, which would help the establishment of an energy-saving economic development style.

    Yu said the biggest problem for the Expo might be the huge number of visitors.

    The organizer is considering bringing forward the opening time of the Expo site by one or two hours from the planned 9am, he said.

    People can take pictures, take a walk or just have a rest before the opening of the pavilions, which is set to be at 9:30 a.m., he said.