Pacific nations

PNG splurges on Bentley limos for Apec summit in latest spending row in poverty-stricken nation

Government’s controversial order follows outrage over its earlier purchase of 40 Maseratis for the same event

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2018, 3:58pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2018, 3:58pm

Papua New Guinea has reportedly bought three Bentley limousines to use at an Asia-Pacific summit next month, in a move set to rev-up further outrage after the purchase of 40 Maseratis for the same event.

The Bentley Flying Spur luxury cars ordered for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby cost more than A$320,000 (US$228,000) each, the Australian newspaper reported.

It said the cars were en route to the poverty-stricken Melanesian nation by sea, publishing an invoice purportedly detailing the purchase from a Malaysian company, South Pacific Ventures.

Papua New Guinea’s purchase of 40 Maseratis for Apec raises eyebrows in poverty-hit country

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is already under fire after splurging US$6.4 million on the fleet of Maseratis to chauffeur dignitaries around Port Moresby, where half the population live in squatter settlements.

Critics say the money could have been better spent dealing with chronic social problems in a developing nation where diseases such as polio and TB have recently re-emerged.

Opposition lawmakers are threatening a national strike over the issue, saying it symbolised government corruption.

“We are disgusted,” opposition politician Bryan Kramer posted on social media Monday after meeting fellow MPs to discuss the issue.

“We agreed that we are sick to death of seeing our people suffer while our own members of parliament … (collude) with overseas opportunists only to steal from our people.”

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The strike was originally scheduled for this week but Kramer said it had been deferred to October 25 to avoid clashing with school exams.

The PNG government says the luxury cars are needed for a prestige event like Apec and the cars would be sold on to the private sector after the summit finishes.

It says buyers are already lined up, a claim disputed by the opposition.