Japan's bureaucracy is notorious for funding useless projects. In the 1980s, the government built eight airports used solely to ship vegetables to market—although farmers chose to stick with cheaper trucks. Politicians now get votes by promising to stop building highways and bridges.
Indonesians have long wondered how their 4 million civil servants occupy themselves all day at the office. The government gave a clue last week by announcing that 109,000 paper pushers don't do anything at all. Cost: $13 million a month.
High-ranking Taiwanese civil servants often get free housing from the government. And when they retire, they frequently fail to move out. A ruling party legislator estimates that civil servants unlawfully occupy some $590 million-worth of government-owned real estate.
The southern Chinese city of Zhuhai wanted to be a regional hub so it completed an international airport in 1995—with a capacity of 11 million passengers annually—at a cost of $830 million. But few have come: only 744,000 travelers used the airport last year, and management routinely turns out the lights between flights to save money.
Indians consider many rivers sacred. Maybe that's why they throw so much money at them. One hydroelectric dam project in Jharkhand was supposed to cost $85.3 million; the dam isn't anywhere near completion after 30 years and, according to capital investment research firm Projects Today, its total budget will probably rise to $684 million. Likewise, it's expected to take close to $4 billion to complete the massively controversial Narmada dam; the original budget was $1.4 billion.
Road to Perdition
The Philippines built a 5.1-km highway to take pressure off Roxas Boulevard, a bayside avenue named for former President Manuel Roxas. The new road is called President Diosdado Macapagal Avenue to honor another former leader, father of current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. But when the road's budget went from $9.1 million to $20 million, there was a public fuss and the entire board of the government agency in charge of the project was forced to go on involuntary leave. That's no way to honor the President's father: some are now suggesting the road be renamed Central Boulevard.
Jumpin' Jack Cash
Hong Kong wants the world to know that SARS is a plague of the past, so it has budgeted more than $10 million for concerts next month featuring Prince, the Rolling Stones, Santana, José Carreras and F4. The government refuses to detail how much each act will get, but critics are howling that the Stones are reportedly being paid more than double their usual rate.