Pacific News Minute: PNG Criticized for Purchase of 40 Maseratis as VIP Transport at APEC Summit

Oct 16, 2018

2014 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 in Blu Passione with Marrone leather interior.
Credit Mr.choppers / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

40 custom- built Maseratis arrived in Port Moresby on two charted 747s late last week – the luxury cars were bought by the government of Papua New Guinea to serve as VIP transport during next month’s APEC summit and the splurge has attracted criticism.

Running as much as $250,000 each, the Maserati Quattroporte Sedans certainly don’t come cheap. But their price doesn’t begin to compare to the cost to construct new highways that lead to a new Convention Center. Most of those expenses are being picked up by China, though, and the government swears it will recoup the cost of the Maseratis as well.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the cars will be sold to the private sector shortly after the summit ends, and the government’s APEC minister, Julian Tkatchenko, told RNZ Pacific the Maseratis would sell “like hot cakes.”

However, he declined to explain how the government could get full price for depreciated cars. PNG will keep nine fire engines donated by China, 22 ambulances from Japan and a variety of busses and vans. 

The Maserati deal has been a gift to the political opposition.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill

The governor of Northern Province, Gary Juffa, told Australia’s ABC that it amounted to a “slap in the face of the people of Papua New Guinea.” In a statement, MP Brian Kramer wrote that, “amid an outbreak of polio, failing health and education systems, systemic corruption and escalating law and order issues, the Prime Minister appears to be more interested in impressing world leaders.”

Those leaders will not include President Trump, who decided to skip both the ASEAN and the APEC summits this year; Vice President Mike Pence will represent the United States.

Update: The government of Papua New Guinea has also purchased luxury Bentley sedans ahead of the conference. Each vehicle costs more than $200,000 U.S.