Merkel’s Government Waste Problem: A $395 Toilet Brush
Policy + Politics

Merkel’s Government Waste Problem: A $395 Toilet Brush

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times

Germans are notoriously frugal – some in Europe would even say cheap – and they’re also quick to scold their EU neighbors for what they see as irresponsible spending.

That was before a new parliamentary report – two years in the making – shows that out-of-control spending is hardly limited to Italy, Greece or Portugal or other corners of the continent.

Developers of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg spent $395 dollars on a single toilet brush, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

Not just one toilet brush went for this obscene amount of money, though. In Germany, each stall gets its own brush. That means that the music hall going up in Hamburg bought a passel of $395 toilet brushes.

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This kind of wasteful spending in Deutschland would likely go unnoticed if construction of the concert hall were privately financed. That’s not the case. The German government is footing the bill for the project – and right now its parliament is investigating how a project with an original cost of $251 million has ballooned to $1.1 billion.

Construction of the hall was supposed to be finished in 2010. The hall is now due to open in 2017.

In addition to the $395 toilet scrubbers, the report also found that project managers had spent $1,293 dollars on a single paper towel dispenser. While the full report won’t be released until next year, leaked portions of it show that the German government is angry about the over-the-top spending, particularly on the bathroom amenities.

“Everyone involved in this project should have known that the claim of a public sector building to be counted among world architecture does not necessarily extend to toilet brushes costing €291.97 [$395] each,” the report said.

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