YOUR AM WRITES: Mohammad Asghar, Conservative AM for South East Wales
4:02pm Tuesday 3rd December 2013 in News
It’s not often that I’m lost for words in my role as an Assembly Member; however this month would prove to be an exception to that rule.
Many people in Wales believe that devolution has placed power into the hands of elected representatives that will act in the best interests of our country. This sentiment was echoed when on March 4th 2011, a referendum on law-making powers for the Assembly Government revealed 63.49% of people voted yes to increased powers and only 36.51% voted no.
However, this month it was revealed that the Welsh Government under the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, decided that the best way to spend £17.6 million of taxpayers money wasn’t on filling NHS staffing vacancies to improve services and unacceptable waiting times; nor was it on improving ambulance response times (which have been missed for the last 16 months under this government); neither was it put towards the Welsh Government’s failure to meet its own waiting time targets for urgent cancer patients - targets that have been missed for the past five years.
So what did the Welsh Government actually decide to spend this money on? Education? …Welsh schools are some of the worst performing in the UK… or was it road improvements? The potholed legacy of our recent harsh winters still litters our roads and pavements...
The astonishing truth is that it was none of the above. Instead, the Welsh Labour Government deemed the best way to spend your money was on a lavish £17.6 million refurbishment of their Cardiff Bay offices.
• Over £80,000 (just this year) on new televisions – including a 75” Samsung screen for £6,661.
• 34 tables at over £2,600 each.
• 387 Chairs at £538 each.
• £595,311 on audio and video conferencing equipment.
• £902,000 on new IT equipment.
Meanwhile, Labour’s own councillors have been warning of an ‘Armageddon’ facing public services.
I’m not against refurbishment, however elected representatives in public office have a duty to keep these expenditures in context and spend public money wisely.
The Welsh Government may soon be holding a referendum on further tax-raising powers. After such a wasteful display of opulence, how can the people of Wales trust the Welsh Government to spend their money wisely?
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