Impoverished PNG bulk-buys Maseratis
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.