Cyprus Mail

New row over state cars, this time it’s about the colours

By Angelos Anastasiou

The Audit Service has asked the communications ministry’s Electromechanical Services Department to explain why the 20 state cars received last month were not uniformly coloured, per the original agreement, daily Politis reported on Tuesday.

In a letter to the department’s head dated January 22nd, the Audit Service’s chief technical auditor Andreas Hassapopoulos, on behalf of Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides, noted that the agreement for the provision of 20 cars for state officials “would be of the same colour”.

Therefore, he argued, ordering the cars in four separate colours “constituted an amendment to the agreement, which should have been approved by the Central Committee of Changes and Claims”.

However, the letter made no mention of the possible added cost to the state of different paint jobs.

The cars, 20 Audi A6s with 2-litre diesel engines, were ordered for use by government ministers and other officials.

According to Hassapopoulos, eight cars were received in “Tornado grey metallic” paint, eight coloured “Moonlight blue metallic”, two “Dakota grey metallic”, and two “Floret silver metallic”.

The choice of colours, he added, appeared to have been made by the communications ministry, allowing each minister or official a choice among them.

Further questions were raised about who actually received a car, noting that not all government officials have the car that was ordered on their behalf.

“A response by the Electromechanical Services Department as to the reasons for which the terms of the original agreement were violated and two brand-new cars remain parked and idle in the EMS department’s parking lot is expected,” the Audit Service said in a statement on Tuesday.

Citing unidentified sources, Politis reported that police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou declined to receive his car due to its colour, while government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said he doesn’t require a new state car.

Therefore, the auditor asked what the state plans to do with the unwanted cars.

An added point raised in the letter was the case of Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos, who declined the new car but continues to use the old one, a Mercedes S320, which carries a 3.2-litre engine.

In a statement of response on Tuesday, the Audit Service refuted Politis’ claim that Hasikos uses mainly his personal car – a Range Rover – and only on occasion his state-provided Mercedes.

“From October 2013 to November 2015, according to data provided by the Electromechanical Services Department, the [Mercedes] travelled approximately 40,000 km,” the statement said.

“It is noted that the claim that the interior minister does not use this car was only made by Politis, while the minister never made such a claim.”

The new cars were ordered according to the provisions of a new law, which caps engine sizes and emissions. Hasikos’ old state car does not meet these specifications.

“This vehicle’s average consumption is 8,3lt/100km, compared with the new cars, which have an average consumption of 4,2lt/100km, with almost double emissions, too,” the Audit Service noted.

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