Auction for leaders' cars rescheduled, starting prices revealed
An auction for the cars that have been withdrawn from leaders, previously slated for Tuesday February 21, has been rescheduled to next Tuesday February 28, authorities in charge have announced.
Fourteen cars - seven BMW 730 LI and seven Mercedes Benz S350 - which have been in use since 2012 are on view at the National Convention Centre where the auction will take place at 3pm. Those interested can observe the vehicles at the Centre.
The authorities have decided to hold an auction instead of offering the vehicles for tender as previously announced. The auction means bidders are required to state their price as soon as the auction gets underway, enabling bidders to keep offering a price while those who are prepared to pay the most will be sold the car in question, according to an official in charge.
Previously, the authorities said they would put the vehicles up for tender, with bidders required to state a price in an envelope submitted to the authorities. The cars would go to those who offered the highest amount, with their names announced the following day.
The auction was rescheduled when authorities in charge were unable to properly prepare for the event as the starting prices were only made available on Monday.
All of the BMW 730 LI will go under the hammer with a starting price of US$100,000 regardless of the distance they have been driven. A brand new BMW 730 LI sells for US$170,000 at dealerships in Laos.
Of the seven BMW 730 LI, one has only been driven for just over 2,000 km, while the longest distance driven was recorded at almost 21,000 km.
All seven of the Mercedes Benz S350 are on offer for a starting price of US$60,000. A brand new full-option Mercedes Benz S350 is priced at about US$155,000 in Lao showrooms.
Some of the Mercedes have been driven for only a little over 1,000 km, while some have more than 19,000 km on the clock.
All of the procedures and expenses involved in the conversion of the cars from being state-owned to privately owned will be carried out by and paid for by the authorities in charge.
The official said a number of interested people – many of whom are Chinese - have visited the National Convention Centre to view the cars first hand.
The withdrawal of luxury vehicles from the country's leaders is part of the government's policy on frugality. Top ranking officials will be given cheaper cars instead.
The cars that will be auctioned off next week are the first batch to be handed back. More luxury cars that were purchased for state affairs will be taken back along with extra cars that were provided to leading officials.
In total, 36 Mercedes-Benz comprising 15 S-Class and 21 E-Class cars were purchased for use in state affairs by central and local departments, such as receiving foreign guests, while some were assigned to high-ranking officials. This figure includes the cars that have already been withdrawn.
Government spokesman Prof. D r Chaleun Yiapaoher said recently that luxury cars provided to leaders who are still in office will be taken back. But those provided to leaders who have retired were intended as gifts. Their return was not essential but if their own ers volunteered to hand back their cars it would be appreciated.
An official in charge told Vientiane Times yesterday he could not say how many retired leaders had volunteered to return their cars, or had done so, as this information was unavailable.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update February 24, 2017)