The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister says it is "highly unlikely" Christchurch's convention centre will be built in time for the city's first international convention since the earthquakes.
The central city project was recently delayed by a year, to late 2018, and questions about the project's total cost have been raised in recent weeks.
Gerry Brownlee yesterday answered questions about the project during a Parliamentary select committee and said there was no budget blowout because there was no final budget to work to yet.
The Government earmarked $284 million to the project but Prime Minister John Key told tourism delegates last month that the cost was becoming fairly prohibitive.
Mr Brownlee acknowledged that cost estimates were higher than anticipated, yesterday.
Labour MP Ruth Dyson asked him if the centre would be built in time for a major medical conference in November 2018.
He replied: "I think, highly unlikely...and that should be pretty obvious. It's surprising to me that they've actually booked it."
Ms Dyson requested a break-down of the project's costs after some confusion about how much money had already been spent.
Mr Brownlee refused to be drawn on the project's delays and said he had always been reluctant to provide a timeline for its completion.
He said seeming desperate to get the project off the ground could affect the "ability to get a sharp price" for the convention centre.
He said the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority wanted to be confident that it was "not doing the wrong thing".
"That takes time."