Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Debt-driven Italy sells its luxury vehicles on EBay

AFP, ROME

Italy’s cash-strapped government has raised more than 370,000 euros (US$511,200) by selling 52 luxury cars owned by the state through online auction site EBay, the prime minister’s office has said.

On the first day of sales, Rome managed to sell executive vehicles worth 371,400 euros from the sale of auto blu cars, the name given to those owned by Italian ministers and state officials.

The sell-off was sanctioned by new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

He has pledged to produce government savings of up to 7 million euros, but the sell-off of part of the state’s fleet of cars was seen as highly symbolic, an attempt to reduce the costs of the political class, which has been tainted by corruption scandals.

More than 1 million people had visited EBay to view the cars up for sale, which included such iconic nameplates as Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Audi. The vehicles belonged to Italy’s Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defense.

The next sale of state vehicles, again via EBay, is to take place on April 28 and include eight state-owned Maseratis being put up for auction.

A statement from the Chigi Palace, the prime minister’s official residence, said “the cars auctioned were selected from among those that the government no longer deemed essential.”

The government on Thursday asked the EU to push back a deadline for cutting its public deficit to 2016, days after France reportedly tried and failed to get another extension.

Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said record unemployment and weak growth — exasperated by measures to pay tens of billions of euros of overdue arrears to companies — were making it difficult to cut Italy’s towering debt.

“Despite the positive signs, the economic recovery is still fragile and the situation in the job market is still difficult,” he told parliament.

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