The U.S. government will spend $511 million to expand its embassy in Kabul, the U.S. ambassador said Wednesday, describing the work as a demonstration of America's long-term commitment to Afghanistan.
"We make this commitment by commemorating the recent award of a $511 million contract to expand the U.S. Embassy here in Kabul," Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said during a ceremony at the construction site that marked the formal announcement of the contract.
I can hear the chorus of outrage already. That much? In this time of record-high national debt and unemployment! How did that ever get through Congress?
In other news today, Indian sources are reporting that President Obama's upcoming two-day visit to Mumbai will cost $200 million on security and hotel costs, which include booking the entire 570-room Taj Hotel:
The US would be spending a whopping $200 million (Rs. 900 crore approx) per day on President Barack Obama's visit to the city.
"The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the Presidential visit," a top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit said.
About 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists would accompany the President. Several officials from the White House and US security agencies are already here for the past one week with helicopters, a ship and high-end security instruments.
I can easily believe that figure. If we added transportation and personnel costs, the total bill would no doubt be much higher. But let's just look at the $200 million figure, which is for two days out of a ten-day trip.
It breaks down to $8.333 million per hour. So, every 61.3 hours, or roughly every two and one-half days, the trip will cost as much as the Kabul embassy expansion.
That's what you can buy for $511 million. Whether you should or not, is something I will leave to others.