HAVEN'T our politicians heard of IKEA?
Wales on Sunday visited the mammoth home furnishings store in Cardiff to see how many desks and plants we could buy for £25,000.
Opting for the most costly desks available - at £155 - the Assembly could have bought 101.
And £9,000 would have bought 900 of the most expensive plants - or 9,000 of the cheapest.
Jeff Baldry, IKEA's small business manager in Wales, said: "We'd be delighted next time to be given the chance to set these people up with a much better deal in furnishing their offices. £15,700 seems an awful lot for a desk."
FIRST, they splashed out £41m on Wales' new seat of power.
Now, the National Assembly has blown £15,700 on a desk to match.
And not content with wasting your money on a flashy front counter, they've also forked out £9,000 on plants for the courtyard of the new building in Cardiff Bay.
The figures, released to Wales on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act, landed the Labour-run government in hot water last night. Critics accused the administration of getting its priorities wrong - for buying the desk when it was not prepared to help two Bridgend furniture factories belonging to Christie Tyler which went bust in July, and for going plant shopping just 18 months after a bitter funding battle with the National Botanic Gardens.
The desk, made by construction giant Taylor Woodrow, which is building the headquarters of Wales' devolved Government, is made up of six workstations for receptionists and public information staff. It has a steel frame, with translucent laminated glass panels on the front face, and a work surface made of Welsh slate.
Last month the Assembly's Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said the £300,000 bill for modern art to decorate the debating chamber was an "integral part of the structure of the building".
Defending the £25,700 splurge, an Assembly spokesman said: "The desk will serve as a focal point for visitors entering the main public space." No mention was made of the 'touchy-feely' landscaping costs.
Leading the criticism, Tory leader in the Assembly Nick Bourne said: "The same Labour Assembly Government needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into giving money to the Botanic Gardens but now manage to spend £9,000 on plants. They're not going to Do-It-All, are they?
"£900 may be acceptable, but £9,000 - my God, no. It's too much."
He added it was ironic Assembly bosses were buying flash furniture just days after 200 furniture makers in Bridgend lost their jobs.
Plaid Cymru's Shadow Social Justice Minister Leanne Wood said: "They say that money doesn't grow on trees, but clearly Labour thinks it does.
"Every time New Labour defends this kind of spending they must realise that to most people it seems excessive."
The spending was also attacked by the Forum of Private Businesses, which represents small businesses in Wales.
Spokesman Ben Pinnington said: "Business owners will view this appalling waste of hard-earned taxpayers' money with complete and utter contempt.
"The Assembly is living in a bureaucratic bubble a million miles away from the harsh realities of the business world. A world where lack of care with money leads to businesses going bust. The Assembly desperately needs to show it lives in the real world."