Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Government that likes to say YES...YES...YES*

Civil servants promoting Welsh business abroad charged nearly £750,000 to 35 assembly government credit cards in the past year, it has emerged.


Tens of thousands of pounds were spent on flights and visits to top hotels by International Business Wales (IBW).

The Liberal Democrats said every Welsh taxpayer "deserves an explanation".
The assembly government said officials had to pursue "every viable business opportunity" and were now covering a number of countries from fewer offices.

But the Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures from a freedom of information (FOI) request, said it suggested a "runaway culture of spending".

The assembly government said every claim had to "fully comply with strict authorisation and audit requirements".

The details, from 35 different corporate credit card accounts for the year June 2008 to end of May 2009, were revealed in response to the FOI request.

The cards were used by civil servants working for International Business Wales (IBW), which has offices in major cities including New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris.

IBW's role is to attract inward investment to Wales, and to create opportunities for Welsh businesses overseas, by leading trade delegations and creating links between senior decision makers and business people from Wales.

The money spent included:
  • More than £24,000 with the Cathay Pacific airline on one credit card account.

  • The most expensive individual purchase was £6,606 from a staff member in Hong Kong, again paid to Cathay Pacific.

  • The cheapest was 89p, by a member of staff from the New York office, which is listed as being paid to the McDonald's restaurant in Swansea.

  • Over the 12 months, more than £36,000 was spent with Virgin Atlantic airlines, with another £25,000 on other Virgin flights.

  • There were nearly £250 worth of purchases at various Starbucks coffee houses around the world.

Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, should allow his department to look into 0% balance transfer deals which could help out during this recession. There are a lot of offers on the table at the moment.

* with credit and acknowledgement going to a certain banking institution from the 1980's.

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