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Country gutted as luxury cars go to MPs

Marape
Lots to laugh about - James Marape and friends. The prime minister is looking forward to taking out his new K510,000 Bentley Flying Spur for a spin

KEITH JACKSON

NOOSA – It seems Papua New Guinea's prime minister James Marape is joining the global elite as the owner of a near new Bentley super-luxury Flying Spur.

And the people of PNG have every reason to feel betrayed.

The starting price of a Flying Spur in Australia is K510,000. Marape’s is one of three purchased along with 40 Maseratis and scores of other luxury vehicles for last year’s Asia-Pacific summit, APEC.

A government report has estimated hosting the APEC summit cost PNG around K460 million.

It is not known whether servicing and other support capabilities exist in PNG for the Bentleys and 40 Maserati Quattroporte supercars, valued at more than K350,000 each, which were bought to ferry delegates around Port Moresby for the summit.

It was a controversial and much criticised purchase in the near-broke country and the New Zealand prime minister was reported to have refused to be driven in the luxury vehicles, as a symbolic protest against the excess, while many other leaders brought their own conveyances.

At the time then prime minister Peter O’Neill said the luxury cars would be sold to the private sector following the summit to recoup their costs. This never happened.

Some of them remained on the Port Moresby wharf while others were parked inland near the Bomana prison. Another 300 vehicles "disappeared" until police tracked them down.

Marape, who since taking office in May has vowed to clean up PNG politics and promised to make the country “the world’s richest black Christian nation”, will receive one of the three top marques of the high-end cars.

The scandal resurfaced on Thursday when finance secretary Ken Ngangan told the Post Courier that all 111 members of parliament will get vehicles from the APEC fleet “for their electoral duties”.

"Cabinet made a decision recently to have members of parliament presented with a vehicle each so that they can use [them] here in the capital city [and] for their electoral duties," he said.

Bentley
The Flying Spur - half a million kinas of luxury ready to eat up those Highlands goat tracks

One of three Bentleys purchased will be made available for the office of the prime minister, Ngangan said.

At the time, former prime minister and now Marape supporter Sir Mekere Morauta, then an opposition MP, raised questions about the Bentleys, including whether the cars had been procured using a competitive tender process.

Sir Mekere said O’Neill should explain why the government had spent so much on APEC “including many wasteful, extravagant items such as luxury cars, at this time of suffering and hardship”.

So, after just five months in office, the Marape government seems to be showing its true colours – and they seem to be pretty much the same faded shades as those of the O’Neill government it deposed.

The continuation of the sad modern tradition of elective politics in PNG being a ticket to great riches seems to be very much intact.

Comments

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Philip Fitzpatrick

Arthur Williams comment on the Exkiap website today is interesting:
___________

"This were the donated ones" from PM's Whats App text to John. No problem there then. BUT mate the Maserati, Bentley etc were BOUGHT by the state allegedly via a deal with a Sri Lankan person.

181017 'All Lies! says APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko!' Post Courier - "Secondly, as with past APEC hosts, these vehicles will be bought by the private sector at cost."

181121 The National report "Lands and APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko says the PNG APEC Coordination Authority will cease by the end of this year and all its assets, including the Maseratis, will all be disposed of through public tender."

181205 The National - 'No Sale Or Tender Of APEC Cars As Yet' - . "We are recouping all assets used under APEC and the public disposal program will take precedence,” Finance Minister Mr Marape said."

190218 The National - Mr Marape again: "Those are the manner in how we will handle the disposal of the vehicles, the call for tender is out. For the market price we have our assessment on what is the going rate for both vehicles on market price,” he said."

190619 The National: 'Push for probe into procurement of the APEC Maserati cars'. "Police Minister Kramer said, he would file a complaint on the progress of the investigations into the procurements of ordering the Maserati and Bentley cars..."

190715 The National report - "Of the 502 new vehicles acquired for the international event in Port Moresby, 166 were donated and 336 bought by the Government," said Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan."

You may care to read those writings too, John, or we could end up later with Marape quoting his mate O'Neill's defensive statements, "I didn't actually sign that...!"

Seems that they only speak the truth when their mouths are shut, or some such street jargon.

Maybe PPSD - Post Political Stress Disorder.

[A jaundiced old Welsh git]

Porap Gai

Keith Jackson, your position is greatly appreciated. Every citizen should have the same claim on APEC.

It seems PNG lost much of its money on hosting APEC, including those expensive vehicles bought from overseas.

The luxury cars should have sold to the business sector, then PNG's money lost would be reimbursed. The former PM Peter O’Neill has told The National he would do so but the promise was not fulfilled.

Thanks Keith Jackson for addressing.

David Kitchnoge

Thanks Phil.

There have been inconsistent public announcements by the government machinery since Marape took office. This one looks like one of those. Wasn't very accurate but pretty close though.

Remember how China would provide a billion kina loan funding to PNG which was supposedly 'announced' through a press statement from the PM's office only for Marape to come out and label it as fake news afterwards?

So the Maserati story is also fake news now?

Could it be that something sinister is brewing in the background? Is someone deliberately manufacturing and publishing fake news to undermine Marape?

Or are we seeing Marape's inexperience and indecision come to the fore?

If it’s the former, then Marape needs to grab hold of its neck quickly and break it. If it’s the latter, then he needs to learn and learn fast how to lead.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I posted a comment on the Exkiap website and John Hocknull sent it on to Marape who responded to him on WhatsApp. The message is as follows:

Hi Phil,

Message for you, personally, from the PM James Marape.

"Let him know that’s false spread, no Maserati or Bentley is picked up by MPs including me unless they buy it, used apec vehicles are being disposed to all districts due health, police or educational vehicles. This were the ones donated.
James Marape"

Hope you appreciate the personal response.
Cheers John

David Kitchnoge

Post Courier's front page story today appears to confirm your suspicions KJ.

Seems government has relented to our outburst and are now going to sell these expensive toys. Either that or the original article by Kenneth was wrong.

MPs would still get the lesser known Indian brand of Mahendra vehicles. Still not right. Doesn’t matter the brand, it’s the thinking behind that is just wrong.

Why do MPs deserve these cars? Why don’t we ship them back to India and sell them there?

Then there are other car brands with no presence in the local market that are being distributed to charity groups and the likes.

They are in fact transferring problems to these poor organisations, not solutions. Nice drive for the first few months until the cars begin to need servicing. Poisoned chalice!

Philip Fitzpatrick

I'm hearing reports that whoever first reported this got the story wrong.

According to John Hocknull on the Exkiap website Marape has offered the luxury cars to the MPs to BUY. Marape will apparently pay for his Bentley.

He also says that the other cars in the APEC fleet will be sent to the provinces and the districts.

I guess only MPs and maybe the lawyers are the only people in PNG who could afford such vehicles.

Funny that Marape hasn't issued a press release on the matter.
________

The original Post-Courier story by the government's favourite reporter Gorethy Kenneth who had interviewed no less an official than finance secretary Ken Ngangan made no mention of the word 'BUY'. It mentioned 'awarded', 'given' and 'presented'. If Hocknull's report is correct, it would seem to me that there may be some serious backtracking in progress - KJ

Joe Leo Alex

We have a good number of patriots in the government so let's wait and see if they accept these luxury gifts.

If they do then PNG is doomed. And if what was said about PMJM is true, then PNG is hell bound.

David Kitchnoge

This is one big 'up yours' from Marape and his cohorts.

The goddamn country is broke! Government should be in a sell mode. Everything that it does not need must be sold starting with these luxury cars.

They definitely won't sell in PNG; too pricey, nil availability of service and support locally, and incompatible roads. But they will sell elsewhere in the world. Sell them for christ's sake.

Public servants who work for these politicians have been told to accept partial payment of their salaries or no payment at all and yet these assholes see fit to 'reward' themselves with these expensive machines.

The newspapers recently reported that a teacher in East New Britain has been going without pay for years. My cousin who has entered teaching this year has been teaching in Lae without pay since she started. My brother who works in the finance department is paid a token 'living allowance' every fortnight instead of his full pay.

The list goes on. Schools, hospitals, roads etc all need funding. This is not the time to reward anyone. Certainly not the useless politicians who've brought our country to its knees.

We will be watching to see if people like Bryan Kramer, Allan Bird, Gary Juffa, Sir Mekere Morauta, Dr Allan Marat and Kerenga Kua accept one of these cars.

If they do, then they are all useless like the others.

Bernard Corden

A quote from Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America resonates:

"The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through"

Wilhemina (Wiz) Beki

This leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. What a slap in the face.

Iso Yawi

Wow! As a minimum wage earner, three-quarters of my wages were taxed.

It's disappointing when taxpayers' money is spilled on the luxury egos of politicians.

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