By Peter Stevenson
THE FINANCE ministry yesterday took the blame for giving DIKO leader Marios Garoyian a state car that does not meet new legislative specifications.
Garoyian is entitled to have a state-owned luxury car as he has served as House President but a list of politicians and heads of semi-governmental organisations (SGO) released on Monday showed his vehicle is more powerful than the president’s.
However the ministry said the DIKO leader’s current car, a Mercedes E500, which he was given in 2010, is only temporarily his, as he is waiting to be given one that will comply with the new legislation.
“The arrangement for use of the vehicle whose specifications exceed those set for a former House President – after the Cabinet’s decision – was made by the finance ministry on the basis of the vehicles the state had available at the time,” the ministry’s statement said. “The arrangement is temporary until the state can allocate Garoyian a vehicle in accordance with the law,” it added.
It said the former House President had absolutely no involvement in the selection of the vehicle.
The Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Nicolas Papadopoulos said on Monday there had clearly been “abuse” of the system which provides luxury vehicles to former and present officials in the wider public sector after hearing that at least 117 officials enjoyed this privilege.
The committee discussed the possible abolition of the privilege of providing state cars to a large number of former and present public officials. For those who will continue to enjoy state vehicles, parliament examined putting restrictions on engine size, pollution emissions and price, with only the president’s vehicle enjoying full exemption for security purposes.
The Mercedes E500 that Garoyian has in his possession has a 5461cc engine compared to the President’s Mercedes S450L which has a 4663cc engine.
Under new legislation House presidents will be allowed to have cars that have an engine capacity of between 2900cc and 3600cc. Garoyian has had the car since January 20, 2010 after Mercedes had won the government tender.
Head of sales at Mercedes, Lakis Kostekoglou told the Cyprus Mail that the starting price for a new E500 is €59,000, tax free.
“The government purchased the cars tax free in 2010, after we offered special reductions in order to win the tender,” he said.
Kostekoglou revealed that the price of a taxed E500 could easily go over the €100,000 price mark depending on what extras are put on the car.
Carbon dioxide emissions for a brand new E500 are 209 g/km with fuel consumption reaching nine litres per 100 km on average.
If the car had been brought over from another EU country, around €31,000 in duty would have to be paid according to customs.