‘Hot-cake’ Maseratis now a bargain. Maybe

Some of the controversial and much unused Maseratis. It’s said spare parts may be a problem in PNG but those street mechanics will turn their hands to that

| British Broadcasting Corporation

LONDON – Papua New Guinea has admitted making a ‘terrible mistake’ after struggling to sell a £4.2m (K20 million) fleet of luxury cars bought to impress politicians during a meeting of regional leaders.

The then-O’Neill government boasted the Maseratis would be snapped up after being used for the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.

The purchase caused a controversy, with some leaders, including New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, refusing to use them.

Now the country – one of the poorest in the Pacific – will sell them at a loss.

“If we had any foresight, the Maseratis would not have been purchased in the first place,” finance minister Sir John Pundari told local media.

“I don’t know the reasons we went down the path of purchasing Maseratis and now we are caught up with this dilemma,” he added.

The cars will now be sold for around K400,000 each ($A160,000), around a 20% loss on the original price.

The Quattroporte sedans were bought through a dealer in Sri Lanka and flown into the country by a chartered jumbo jet.

At the time, the country’s APEC minister, Justin Tkatchenko, defended the purchase, claiming that the cars would provide “the level of carriage for leaders that is the standard for vehicles used at APEC summits”.

Mr Tkatchenko claimed that the vehicles would “sell like hot-cakes” once the summit had concluded and then prime minister O’Neill promised that the government “will not be out of any funds”.

However, the cars have reportedly remained in a warehouse in Port Moresby since the summit ended.

In 2019, James Marape, then finance minister and now prime minister, led local media to the warehouse in an attempt to prove that none of the cars were missing or stolen.

The country also faced other difficulties soon after the summit.

In November 2018, police and security forces stormed the parliament buildings in a dispute over unpaid bonuses of around K350.

Authorities were also forced to appeal for the return of almost 300 other cars that went missing after being loaned to officials during the summit.

Papua New Guinea is one of the poorest countries in APEC, with 40% of the population living on less than K4 a day according to the United Nations.

They’re blowin’ smoke up our arses

Michael Dom

How many books may a Maserati buy
Before it rusts in a shed
How many crooks make a government bad
Before it gets through our heads
Yes, and how many times may a prime minister lie
Before we know he’s a thief
Those politicians are blowin’ smoke up our arses
They’re blowin’ smoke right up our arses

Yes, and home many schools may a Maserati fund
Before the end of a year
And how many drugs may be bought instead
Before our people drop dead
Yes, and how many times must we take out loans
Before we sell off our souls
Those politicians are blowin’ smoke up our arses
They’re blowin’ smoke right up our arses

They’re blowin’ smoke up our arses

Published by Ples Singsing

Ples Singsing is envisioned to be a new platform for Papua Niuginian expressions of creativity, ingenuity and originality in art and culture. We deliberately highlight these two very broad themes as they can encompass the diverse subjects, from technology, medicine and architecture to linguistics, music, fishing, gardening et cetera. Papua Niuginian ways of thinking, living, believing, communicating, dying and so on can cover the gamut of academic, journalistic or opinionated writing and we believe that unless we give ourselves a platform to talk about and discuss these things in an open, free and non-exclusively academic space that they may remain the fodder for academics, journalists and other types of writers alone. New social media platforms have given every individual a personal space to share their feelings and ideas openly, sometimes without immediate censure. The Ples Singsing writer’s blog would like to provide another more structured platform for Papua Niuginian expressions in written, visual and audio formats while also providing some regulation of the type and content of materials to be shared publicly.

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