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Public flushed over luxury toilet costs

THERE is public outrage over a project at a state conference center which has spent nearly 1.5 million yuan (US$219,519) decorating three toilets.

The project came to light when an announcement of the bidding for the project was published on Tuesday on the Website of the Ministry of Finance, today's Oriental Morning Post reported.

The announcement was dated February 23 and the decoration project has been completed, the report said.

Government officials said the public was overreacting.

"The cost is higher than ordinary decoration projects as this project is not a simple interior decoration project on existing toilets," an unnamed official with CPC's outsourcing unit told the Shanghai-based newspaper.

More reconstruction was required as the rooms were not toilets before the project and a sewerage system had to be built, he explained.

The 1.5-million-yuan cost was worked out after careful calculation, he added.

The center serves as a prime conference and banquet venue for CPC, government departments, the army and businesses.

A center staff member confirmed to Oriental Morning Post that the three toilets were renovated earlier this year.

He believed the 1.5-million-yuan cost was fair for the luxury center, which he said was rated as a super five-star standard venue.

He gave an example of the hall's 56 lamps - a symbol of China's 56 ethnic nationalities. He said the lamps were made up of 960,000 crystal balls.

China Decoration Co Ltd, which won the bid for the decoration project, said expensive materials made the cost of the project high.

"The cost for marble, for example, is much higher than normal tiles," explained an unnamed official with the company.

But even that cost, industry insiders agreed, was higher than normal.

Projects for governments are much more profitable than businesses as governments rarely bargain with the bidders if the quotes are within their budgets, an unnamed project manager with Beijing Urban Construction Group told Oriental Morning Post.


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