By George Psyllides
Following a dispute over the specs and use of state cars, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Thursday he did not want a state car and urged the audit service to deal with more serious issues instead of the colour of the government fleet.
“I think there are more serious matters for the audit service to delve into than the colours of the ministers’ cars,” Hasikos said on twitter.
He said he will be using his own vehicle and pay the expenses out of his pocket.
“Nor do I want them to pay for my petrol,” he said, adding that certain people should deal with more serious issues, which were plentiful.
Hasikos was responding to a letter from the audit-service to the transport ministry asking for explanation why 20 new state cars were not uniformly coloured, per original agreement.
The service argued that it “constituted an amendment to the agreement, which should have been approved by the Central Committee of Changes and Claims”.
It also raised the possibility of extra 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.
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 appeared to have been made by the transport 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.
Reports said police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou declined to receive his car due to its colour, while government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides – who has been using his own car since his appointment — said he doesn’t require a new state car.
The auditor asked what the state plans to do with the unwanted cars.
And there was also the case of Hasikos, who declined the new car but continued to use the old one, a Mercedes S320, which has a 3.2-litre engine.
The audit service rejected a claim that Hasikos mainly used his personal vehicle – 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,” it said.
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.