ANOTHER 19 luxury cars will be bought for state officials, at a total cost of €650,000, the minister of communications confirmed a couple of weeks ago. This would take the total amount spent on cars for officials to €2 million since 2015, reported Phileleftheros. It is not an amount that would affect fiscal stability – €400,000 per year on state cars is negligible – but the money is not the only issue. The choice of car and the beneficiaries are an issue.
The 19 cars chosen are the Volvo S90 2.0 D4, which is a mid-size luxury sedan with a diesel engine, presumably because they are more economical. But should the government not have opted for a more environmentally-friendly, hybrid car if it wanted it to be economical? This would set a good example showing that the government is taking practical steps to reduce carbon emissions. And most of the big car manufacturers now produce hybrid models.
Was a hybrid car beyond the dignity of the President of House and the permanent secretaries of ministries? Perhaps the hybrid luxury cars were too expensive so the government opted for luxury sedans with diesel engines to keep everyone happy, while inadvertently exposing its total lack of interest in protecting the environment. It is a bit hypocritical for the government to tax high emissions while it cannot bring itself to purchase hybrid cars for state officials.
While buying a luxury car for the presidents of the House and of the Supreme Court, there is no real justification for buying them for permanent secretaries, the President of the Commission for the Protection of Competition and the Commissioner of Volunteerism. All the commissioners, the number of whom has substantially increased under the Anastasiades presidency, are provided with luxury cars, but they are not all replaced at the same time.
During the recession, there were calls for reducing the number of state officials entitled to a state car, but the government ignored them. The practice of giving a car to every official with a fancy title and paying the fuel costs is established – it is a conquest of state officials – and nobody will dare touch it. And nobody cares that the cars are essentially for personal use and not strictly for official business.
As no government would dare take away this conquest of state officials it could at least buy them cars with a smaller engine (1.6 litre instead of 2.0-litre) and make sure they are hybrid. No official would dare complain if the alternative was to drive their own car.