Papua New Guinea Has Sold Only Two Of The 43 Luxury Cars Imported For Apec

The Papua New Guinea government has sold just two of the more than 40 luxury vehicles it controversially bought for last year’s Apec conference, because the organiser of the tender process did not set a reserve price.

Late last year the PNG government was widely criticised for its decision to spend millions of dollars importing 40 brand new Maseratis Quattroporte sedans and three Bentley Flying Spurs to ferry international delegates around Port Moresby for the conference. Opposition MPs called for strikes in protest at the spending, which they alleged was “blatant fraud”.

The government – and the then minister for Apec, Justin Tkatchenko – reassured Papua New Guineans that the government would recoup every cent spent on the cars, through a resale tender process.

The confidence in selling 43 luxury vehicles was despite PNG’s high levels of poverty, multiple health crises and shortages of basic services, extremely poor roads outside of the city centre and high rates of carjackings. Tkatchenko said the cars would sell “like hotcakes”.

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However, in a statement to media on Sunday, Tkatchenko revealed “delays” with the tender process.

“The delay in the process of disposal under the tender is because no reserve price was set, and therefore initial repose was limited,” he said.

Tkatchenko cited the finance department to say just one Bentley and one Maserati had sold. A third vehicle had reportedly been given to the governor general as a gift.

He told the ABC there had been significant interest in the cars when the tender was put out, but the offers were “just too low and unreasonable” without a set reserve price, and the delays had caused interest to dwindle.

“The tenders were issued wrongly. That’s the problem,” he said. “So, then the whole objective of recouping the funds that we have stated from day one was not achieved. So, we have to go through that process again.”

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All cars are believed to be stored in a Port Moresby parking lot, after they were recovered in the aftermath of Apec. In February it was revealed almost 300 cars which had been loaned to officials to drive delegates around were still missing.

Since Apec, PNG has gone through a seismic political change, with the prime minister, Peter O’Neill, resigning after a rush of defections. The former finance minister, James Marape, is now prime minister.

MP Bryan Kramer, who has long criticised the purchase, was recently appointed police minister and last week said he would now push for greater accountability in government.

Tkatchenko’s admission about the cars formed part of an announcement that the audit report on the Apec event would be tabled in parliament. He did not say when. The ABC reported more than $12m in vendor and supplier bills remained unpaid, which the minister blamed on the finance department.

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