The Herald reports:
Treasury boss John Whitehead took World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials out for pricey dinners just a few months after State Service Commissioner Iain Rennie warned top public servants against doing just that.
Dr Whitehead’s credit card expenses were published this week and show that last month he spent $292 on dinner for three at Wellington waterfront eatery Foxglove with World Bank executive director Jim Hagan.
I’m sorry but this is almost embarrassing. I’m all for responsible use of credit cards, but running a story about spending $95/head at dinner entertaining the Executive Director of the World Bank is ridicolous.
Foxglove is a medium priced restaurant. Far from the most expensive. Should we take the World Bank Executive Director to Uncle Chang’s instead?
Or alternatively have him out for dinner, and then when you get to desserts, tell him “I’m sorry but NZ is so poor, we can’t pay for dessert”.
$95 doesn’t mean there were bottles of expensive wine drunk. $20 for an entree, $40 for a man and $15 for a dessert is $75 so arguably they had one bottle of $60 wine. I doubt the World Bank executive Dinner is going to regale colleagues in Washington about the awesome night out in Wellington – yeah we had five courses, two bottles of port plus a couple of strippers – all for $95 – it was better than Vegas.
It is good to have scrutiny of public sector spending. In fact I support having all Government payments listed online. But I don’t regard $95/head for the Executive Director of the World Bank as inappropriate or even newsworthy.