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The Welsh Labour Government has published its procurement card spending for the financial year 2021 to 2022, revealing it spent £13,000 of taxpayers’ cash on two fancy meals in the United States.
The news will cause embarrassment for Sir Keir Starmer, who recently ran a campaign accusing the Tory Government of wasting taxpayers’ money with Government procurement cards.
The spending documents show that in August and December 2021, the Welsh Government’s credit card was used for an £8,000 meal in Manhattan and £5,000 on a steak dinner in New York.
The Welsh Conservatives also slammed the Welsh Government over other examples of spending, including more than £6,000 on printing in Canada and £243.89 on a spa in India.
£4,956 was spent at Smith and Wollensky in New York, which boasts to be the “best steakhouse” in the city.
The restaurant says it “serves the best USDA Prime dry-aged steaks, premium seafood and award-winning wines.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson defended the spending, saying the event catered for 40 permanent representatives of the UN.
They added that the printing spend in Canada was for leaflets promoting Wales abroad, and meant they didn’t have to fly them over from Britain.
Turning to less glamorous cuisine, the Welsh Government also spent £52 at KFC, £38 at Greggs and £72 at Pret A Manger across the year.
Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies also drew attention to more than £1,000 spent on subscriptions to Apple and Amazon Prime.
The Welsh Tory leade reacting to the revelations said: “Welsh Government procurement cards are a privilege to be used only when essential.
“With very little information given for each purchase – we are all left to wonder what it was all for.
“There has been no explanation as to why it has taken Labour until now to release this data, and its late publication is in response to considerable Welsh Conservatives pressure.
“The UK Conservative Government publishes their spending monthly, yet Labour in Wales feel it is acceptable keep our taxpayers waiting more than 15 months.”
Welsh Secretary David TC Davies slammed the Welsh Government’s profligate spending, saying: “These shocking findings really do ram home just how reckless the Labour-run Welsh Government is with taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.”
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“From spending almost £13,000 at restaurants in America (£8,000 in Manhattan and £5,000 steak in New York), to wasting hundreds of pounds on a spa in India – these claims are absolutely outrageous and rightly raises serious questions of why Labour ministers deemed it appropriate to go on a lavish spending spree with taxpayers’ debit cards.”
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said: “A total of £821,871 was spent on procurement cards in 2021-22. This includes expenditure on fuelling and maintaining the fisheries protection vehicles, renewal of Software licences, exhibitions and events and health and safety related expenditure.
“We have very rigorous processes in place to monitor and control this spend.
“All transactions are reviewed and require approval by senior managers and all purchases are subject to regular internal audit.
“Transparency is important and expenditure for 2022/23 will be released quarterly.”
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