Urgent action taken to withdraw leaders’ luxury cars: Govt spokesman

VIENTIANE (Vientiaen Times/ANN) - Urgent action is being taken to withdraw luxury cars previously provided to leaders, and for use in state affairs, the government’s spokesman said yesterday.

Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher told local media that implementation of a new Prime Ministerial Decree, which will replace luxury cars previously provided to leaders with cheaper vehicles, is expected to be completed within this year or sooner.

“If it could be finished by the middle of this year that would be good, but if it is faster that would be even better,” he told a press conference as he announced the decree No 15 issued early this month.

All expensive luxury cars previously purchased to be provided to leaders and for services in state affairs by ministries and provinces such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Lexus will be withdrawn and sold through a bidding process – in a move to exercise frugality.

“Mercedes-Benz, BMW for instance are expensive. When they need repair there are no spare parts available. We have to take them to repair in a neighbouring country,” he said.

“Therefore, it is necessary to withdraw all [the luxury expensive cars].”

The government agreed that those luxury cars provided to retired leaders will not be taken back except when retired leaders voluntarily returned them.

Some 36 Mercedes-Benz vehicles, comprising 15 S-Class and 21 E-Class, have been purchased for use in state affairs by central and local departments, such as receiving foreign guests, while some have been provided for high-ranking officials.

Another 11 BMW 7 Series cars were purchased for use by current and former members of the Party Politburo including those who have retired.

Prof. Dr Chaleun said the government decided not to retain luxury cars for services in state affairs including receiving foreign leaders.

But he stated the government might hire luxury cars instead when it needs to use them for receiving foreign leaders or approach local car dealers as the government did when Laos hosted the 28th and 29thAsean Summits recently in which dealers offered support and permitted the government to borrow the cars.

So far, some leaders including Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and President Bounnhang Vorachit have returned their BMW 7 Series and now drive Toyota Camry 2.5 cars instead.

The newly-issued decree No 15, which regulates the provision of vehicles to leaders, categorises four levels of leaders.

The top level includes President, Prime Minister, President of the National Assembly, Secretary General of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, and members of the Politburo who are to be allocated three vehicles as previously: a car with an engine capacity no greater than 3,500 cc, a jeep no bigger than 4,500 cc [Land Cruiser], and a pick-up.

The second level comprising the Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Vice President, Vice President of the National Assembly and Deputy Prime Minister, will be provided with two vehicles: a car no larger than 3,000 cc and a jeep no bigger than 4,500 cc [Land Cruiser].

The third level, including members of the Party Central Committee, ministers, chairpersons of NA committees, the NA Secretary, President of the People’s Supreme Court and President of the Supreme Prosecutor will be provided with two vehicles: a car no bigger than 2,500 cc and a pick-up with an engine capacity no greater than 2,500 cc. The fourth level including deputy ministers, vice chairpersons of NA committees, NA Deputy Secretary, Vice President of the People’s Supreme Court and Vice President of the Supreme Prosecutor and deputy provincial governors will be provided with a car whose engine capacity does not exceed 2,000 cc.

The official in charge explained that Toyota Camry 3.5 sedans will be purchased for top and second-level leaders. The third and fourth level leaders [for instance ministers and deputy ministers] will be provided with a Camry 2.5 and 2.0 respectively.

A jeep will not be provided individually to the fourth level leaders as they are required to use one of the three jeeps to be provided to each state organisation.

Jeeps previously provided to ministers or deputy ministers individually will be withdrawn, Dr Chaleun said.

When leaders retire, they are required to give back their cars to the state. However, jeeps and pick-ups provided to top, second and third level leaders might be given as a gift or sold at a discount price to retired leaders based on an agreement with higher authorities.

Policy for whether the fourth level leaders should be given a vehicle or not after they retire will be considered appropriately, the spokesman added.

“The committee in charge will consider and propose the government to give guidance about this,” he said.

Under the new decree, which replaced the old one issued in 2001, top-level leaders will be given 500 litres of petrol a month, second-level leaders will be given 350 litres a month, third level leaders will receive 300 litres a month and the fourth level will receive 200 litres a month.

Petrol provided to the leaders under the new decree are remarkably decreased compared to previous provision under the 2001 decree, the spokesman said, adding that it decreased about 100 litres for each level.



No photos has been attached.