By HELEN TARAWA
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has defended the choice of cars purchased for use by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders next week, saying the deal was best for the nation.
He told Parliament yesterday no vehicle dealers in the country could supply the same “colour, quality and price of vehicles deserving of Apec leaders”.
“When we approached all the dealers here in PNG – Mercedes, Range Rover, Toyota – none of them could supply us the same colour, quality of car at a price that was deserving,” he said.
He said the average cost of the Maserati brand was around K500,000, while the Mercedes Benz used by past hosts of Apec cost more than K1 million.
“We have done a deal that is going to benefit PNG,” he said.
He said the vehicles bought would be sold on public tender after the event.
“Let us have this argument after we have sold the car and have the public auction of the car and see whether we have recovered the money or not,” he said.
One of the three new Bentley cars to be used next week during Apec will be given to Government House after the event, according to O’Neill.
He said the vehicle currently being used by the Governor-General was “aging”.
Moresby North West MP Sir Mekere Morauta had queried about the types of vehicles bought for Apec and their costs.
The Government bought 146 vehicles altogether.
“We bought the Maseratis, the Mahindras and the Bentleys,” O’Neill said.
“Government bought these vehicles using funds from Finance. They would sell them to recover the funds.”
He said K300 million had been allocated to Apec in the 2018 budget.
There was no loan taken to buy the vehicles.
By HELEN TARAWA