Bidding on withdrawn luxury cars expected next month
Authorities in charge expect to hold a bidding session next month to sell six BMW 7 Series and five Mercedes-Benz cars previously driven by the country's leaders.
Leaders of the government and the Lao People's Revolutionary Party have agreed that they will no longer drive expensive, luxury cars such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz in an attempt to be more frugal.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and President Bounnhang Vorachit last week returned their BMW 7 Series cars. They now ride in Toyota Camry 2.5 cars, an official at the Prime Minister's Office in charge of state vehicle affairs told Vientiane Times on Friday.
Vice President Phankham Viphavanh said he would return his BMW 7 Series today (Monday), the official added.
The government last week issued Decision No. 06 to withdraw all BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars that had been purchased for use by individual leaders and in state affairs (carrying blue number plates). The cars will be sold through a bidding process and replaced with cheaper brands such as Toyota.
In total, 36 Mercedes-Benz 15 S-Class and 21 E-Class Mercedes-Benz have been purchased for use in state affairs by central and local departments, such as receiving foreign guests, while some have been provided for high-ranking officials.
Another 11 BMW 7 Series cars were purchased for use by current and former members of the Party Politburo including those who have retired.
The Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Finance have been entrusted to carry out the decision and take back the cars.
However, the BMW 7 Series cars allocated to retired Politburo members are unlikely to be withdrawn because they were gifts, said an official at the Ministry of Finance who is close to the authorities in charge.
“Vice President Phankham Viphavanh said in a meeting of the Finance Ministry today [Friday] that the BMWs driven by retired leaders will not be taken back. They will be given to [them],” said the official, who asked not to be named.
The authorities appointed to be in charge have held a meeting and made an initial agreement to hold the first bidding session early next month - expected to be not later than the second week of February - to sell the luxury cars.
Eleven cars – six BMW 7 Series and five Mercedes-Benz – will be put up for bid first and will be showcased at the National Convention Centre.
“The eleven cars previously driven by top leaders will be sold first because the leaders want to set an example,” the official said.
He added that the next step will be to collect the remaining cars including those being used in the provinces, where about 20 Mercedes-Benz have been allocated.
Decision No. 06 also requires the withdrawal of vehicles provided inappropriately to leading officials in accordance with Prime Ministerial Decree No. 15 issued on January 5, 2017. Vehicles provided in excess of requirements will also be taken back.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update January 23, 2017)