Im­pov­er­ished PNG bulk-buys Maser­atis

Waikato Times - - World -

A fleet of luxury sports cars has been flown in from Mi­lan to the im­pov­er­ished Pa­cific state of Pa­pua New Guinea, where they will trans­port world lead­ers around on roads in such bad con­di­tion that the ve­hi­cles will be lim­ited to speeds of 80 kilo­me­tres per hour.

Forty brand new Maser­atis, which can reach speeds of 240kmh and start from about NZ$152,000 each, are to be used dur­ing next month’s Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (Apec) sum­mit in Port Moresby.

They will be used by lead­ers in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, of Rus­sia, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, of China and Mike Pence, the US vi­cepres­i­dent.

The ar­rival of the cars this week, aboard char­tered Boe­ing 747 freighter air­craft, has in­fu­ri­ated com­mu­nity lead­ers in Pa­pua New Guinea who be­lieve the sum­mit is sap­ping vi­tal pub­lic funds.

The coun­try is fac­ing a health cri­sis with the re­turn of diseases such as po­lio and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. Last week hun­dreds of teach­ers com­plained that their pay had been cut with­out warn­ing.

The govern­ment of Pa­pua New Guinea has ac­cepted mil­lions of dollars in aid and gifts from China to host the sum­mit but has not said who paid for the Maser­atis. It claims that their cost will be off­set be­cause they will be sold to lo­cal buy­ers af­ter the three-day sum­mit ends and Justin Tkatchenko, a min­is­ter, said that some of the Maserati Qu­at­tro­portes had been ‘‘pre-sold’’ to pri­vate buy­ers.

‘‘Of course we have paid a de­posit to get ev­ery­thing here but all costs will be to­tally re­im­bursed and there will be no bur­den at all to the govern­ment. They are sell­ing like hot­cakes,’’ he said.

A prom­i­nent blog­ger, Mar­tyn Mar­tyn Namorong, blog­ger

Namorong, ques­tioned whether pri­vate buy­ers would have the money to pur­chase the luxury cars amid a for­eign cur­rency cri­sis.

The av­er­age an­nual salary in the coun­try is less than NZ$26,000 but eight in 10 peo­ple are sub­sis­tence farm­ers.

‘‘The pri­vate sec­tor has been un­able to buy ma­chines and other equip­ment be­cause of dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting for­eign cur­rency. So it’s hard to see how they can buy 40 Maser­atis,’’ Namorong said. ‘‘We can­not main­tain our very hardy Toy­ota ve­hi­cles so it’s hard to see how we will main­tain these Maser­atis.’’

China’s foothold in Pa­pua New Guinea, lo­cated within 5km of Aus­tralia’s northern is­lands, has deeply con­cerned Aus­tralia, which has in­creased fund­ing and se­cu­rity for the sum­mit.

Pa­pua New Guinea is al­ready awash with billions of dollars in Chi­nese bank loans, in­fras­truc­ture projects and telecomms in­vest­ments and Xi will ar­rive for a two-day state visit be­fore the sum­mit. – The Times

‘‘The pri­vate sec­tor has been un­able to buy ma­chines and other equip­ment be­cause of dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting for­eign cur­rency. So it’s hard to see how they can buy 40 Maser­atis.’’

Pa­pua New Guinea has bought 40 new Maserati Qu­at­tro­portes to be used by na­tional lead­ers dur­ing the up­com­ing Apec con­fer­ence.

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