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Bank of Canada spent $284K on in-house dining


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Governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge gestures during a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 19, 2006. (CP / Jonathan Hayward)


Bank of Canada spent $284K on in-house dining

Updated Mon. Mar. 26 2007 8:35 AM ET


Canadian Press


OTTAWA -- While most public servants were lining up at food courts or brown bagging it last year, the Bank of Canada was hosting lunch and supper gatherings worth $70 per person in its elegant dining rooms.


Internal documents suggest that the vast majority of diners were employees of the central bank.


The governor and senior executives at the Bank of Canada officially claimed less than $2,300 in hospitality expenses last year, but those numbers don't include the costs of operating a fully equipped kitchen and dining service.


That cost the bank $284,000 last year, including food, beverages, a full-time chef, two full-time servers, laundry, equipment and maintenance.


With more than 4,000 meals served -- the vast majority to the bank's own employees -- that works out to more than $70 to feed each guest.


And the cost has been rising dramatically, much faster than the rate of inflation, which the central bank struggles to rein in. The dining tally was $207,000 in 2004, rose 20 per cent in 2005 and another 14 per cent in 2006.


Details of the central bank's executive dining costs were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.


The executive kitchen and dining facilities are separate from the staff cafeteria with its own kitchen, which are managed by an outside firm and are not subsidized.


Various expense-account misdeeds prompted the former Liberal government to issue an edict in 2003 that requires senior officials and ministers to post their travel and hospitality expenses on the Internet for each quarter. Coupled with the increased scrutiny that accompanied the Conservative government's Accountability Act, Ottawa eateries have felt the pinch of fewer meals charged to the public purse.


The Bank of Canada is technically exempt from the requirement to post its expenses but does so anyway.


Bank of Canada governor David Dodge and his five-member senior team together listed $2,253.16 in hospitality expenses for 2006, a surprisingly modest sum for a group that meets regularly with economists, lobbyists, journalists and foreign bankers.


In-house dining records, however, show that 397 meals were served to external guests last year. Another 3,632 meals were served to the bank's own employees and executives, at functions most often hosted by Dodge himself, though none of this appears on the web postings.


The bank estimates the cost of food, beverages and laundry (tablecloths, napkins) for these events averaged about $18.20 a person, but does not factor in the overhead that any fine restaurant would bear, such as labour and equipment maintenance.


With all costs in, each of these meals actually cost the bank $70.49 on average.


"It's management's view that using in-house dining facilities is a cost-effective, time-efficient way to conduct the business of the bank," spokesman Jeremy Harrison said in a e-mailed response to questions.


"The bank places great importance on gathering information and hearing views from a variety of external business, financial and economic groups."


Harrison said the bank's quarterly web postings on hospitality costs are meant to refer only to out-of-pocket expenses paid by individuals and reimbursed by the bank.


Executive dining expenses have risen sharply in recent years, he added, because the bank is reaching out more to the private sector, as well as to its own staff.


Internal records show invitees last year included journalists (Toronto Star, CBC), scholars (Rutgers University, University of Western Ontario), lobbyists (Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Labour Congress), and bankers (State Bank of Pakistan, Central Bank of Barbados).


Guests dined mostly in the governor's private dining room, a carpeted, beige-toned corner room with seating for up to 10; or in the large, more formal north dining room, which accommodates up to 30.


Grilled salmon, vegetable couscous and fruit sorbet is typical fare, with no alcohol served except wine and beer at ceremonial functions only.


Payroll costs for the chef and two servers were $181,000 last year, a 30 per cent increase from 2005. Their uniforms, provided by the bank, cost another $873.


Almost 90 per cent of all the meals served last year were to the bank's own executives and employees.


"In those meetings with external groups, experts from bank staff are often present to support senior management in getting the most out of those discussions, and hearing first-hand what external groups have to say on a range of issues," Harrison said.


Link : http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/stor...70326/20070326/

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