A fleet of Maserati cars that were purchased for the 2018 Apec summit by the Papua New Guinean government are now for sale at discounted price.
The purchase prompted widespread outrage at the time of the summit, and now Finance minister, John Pundari, admitts the purchase of the luxury vehicles was a “terrible mistake.”
In 2018, the cars were purchased for K500,000 (roughly $202,868 NZD) each, costing the government K20m ($8.33m NZD) total.
The luxury vehicles are to be put on the market for the discounted price of K400,000 (roughly $166,642 NZD).
“If we had any foresight, the Maseratis would not have been purchased in the first place. We made a terrible mistake. If you have got no dealers of Maseratis in PNG, there was no reason to buy Maseratis,” says Pundari.
The purchase of the Maserati fleet caused widespread controversy in the weeks leading up to the summit. They were purchased through a dealer in Sri Lanka and flown in by a jumbo jet charter.
The purpose was to chauffeur the world leaders who attended the summit, however due to the controversy surrounding them, some leaders like New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, refused to be driven in them.
In attempt to squash public outrage, then Apec minister, Justin Tkatchenko, promised the country that the vehicles would “sell like hot-cakes”. But three years later, only two have been sold.
Paul Barker, executive director for the PNG Institute of National Affairs, says “the purchase demonstrates a severe lack of foresight and disappointing, apparent readiness to squander public funds, in a developing country, where basic public goods, from access roads to health services, are widely unavailable or severely substandard.”
Baker has been vocal in his criticism of the purchase, expressed skepticism about the government’s promise the cars would see after APEC ended. He emphasised that the vehicles weren’t suitable for local road conditions and pointed out the lack of in-country agencies to service the cars.