Welsh Conservatives have uncovered data showing the Labour-led Welsh Government has spent Â£18,591,272 of public money on PR and marketing agencies in the last three financial years.
Over Â£8 million was spent in 2017/18, representing 44% of the three-year cost.
The cost had risen from nearly Â£5 million (Â£4,969,445) in 2016/17, after falling from Â£5,465,393 in the previous 12 months.
The figures are also likely to be an underestimate as the Welsh Government added in their response to the Welsh Conservativesâ€™ Freedom of Information request that the numbers â€œdo not cover stand-alone marketing contracts tendered outside the central frameworks by individual departments.â€�
The top earning agencies were Smorgasbord and Golley Slater which earned Â£3.2 million and Â£2.9 million, respectively, between 2015 and 2018.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Finance Secretary Nick Ramsay AM said:
â€œIt is completely understandable that governments of whatever colour need to consult with experts and use marketing services when they need to increase awareness of new policies or highlight changes to existing systems.
â€œBut to spend nearly over Â£18 million in such a small time is a flagrant, self-indulgent, and arrogant waste of taxpayersâ€™ money. The average Welsh person will not tolerate their taxes being used in this way.
â€œIn this time of fiscal responsibility, the Welsh Labour Government have some cheek to complain about budget sizes and yet throw money away like this.
â€œIn my time as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I have identified and challenged government spending and seen an all-too-familiar pattern with this Welsh Government â€“ that they do not treat the public purse with the necessary discipline.
â€œA Welsh Conservative Government would change that.â€�