Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

Europe

Cash-strapped Italian govt puts luxury cars on eBay

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-29

Luxury cars owned by the Italian state have gone up for auction on eBay in the latest effort by the country’s cash-strapped government to cut costs and respond to public demand for a reining in of extravagant spending by the political elite.

New Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said a total of 170 cars, including Jaguars, BMWs and Maseratis, will initially be auctioned off, but he eventually wants to put as many as 1,500 vehicles up for sale, Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper reported.

This is just a small fraction of the 60,000-vehicle fleet owned by Italy’s public bodies, however, estimated to cost the state more than 1 billion euros a year to run.

So far, bidding has opened on a total of 25 cars on eBay, and they appear to be attracting plenty of interest.

Most popular has been a 2007 Alfa Romeo 166, attracting 97 bids and a top offer of 9,550 euros. The highest bid for any of the vehicles currently up for auction is 20,000 euros for a 2009 BMW 525.

Many of the more luxurious cars have yet to go on the block. They include two Jaguars previously used by the justice ministry, taken from its fleet of more than 830 chauffeured cars.

To put that figure into context, the UK government has a total fleet of just 85 cars available for use by ministers.

Also set to go on sale are nine Maseratis owned by the defence ministry. They were among 19 ordered by the ministry shortly before the collapse of the Silvio Berlusconi government in 2011, at the peak of the eurozone debt crisis.

Symbolic gesture

The extravagant purchase caused outrage at a time when the defence ministry was facing budget cuts of 2.5 billion euros, though then-defence minister Ignazio La Russa was unapologetic.

“What's the problem? Maseratis are Italian and they cost less than their German equivalents,” he said at the time.

The auction is unlikely to have much of an impact on Italy’s substantial public debt of around 2 trillion euros, but is seen as a symbolic gesture by Renzi at a time of biting austerity cuts in the country.

Renzi, a centre-left politician who became Italy’s youngest-ever prime minister at the age of 39 in February, has sought to win over the public with a less ostentatious style than many of his predecessors.

He drove to a meeting with former prime minister Enrico Letta, shortly before he replaced him, in a blue Smart car.

Before that he was often spotted cycling to work in his hometown of Florence, where he was mayor from 2009 to 2014.

However, the populist Five Star Movement, a party formed by Italian activist and comedian Beppe Grillo in 2009, accused Renzi of hypocrisy over the car auction, saying that while 170 vehicles are being sold, the government has plans to purchase 210 more.

The auction will run until mid-April.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-03-29

  • ITALY

    Italy’s top court upholds public-office ban for Berlusconi

    Read more

  • Italy

    Italy’s Grillo given four-month sentence over train protest

    Read more

  • ITALY

    New Italian PM backed in second crucial vote

    Read more

COMMENT(S)