Finance minister orders rethink of government BMW purchases

Finance minister orders rethink of government BMW purchases

Choice of luxury cars for ministers conveys 'problematic message,' says Yuval Steinitz

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

BMW 528i (photo credit: screen capture, Channel 2)
BMW 528i (photo credit: screen capture, Channel 2)

Amid growing criticism of government spending, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Thursday ordered his office to reexamine an order to purchase a fleet of BMW sedans for government ministers, even though the treasury said the cars would be bought for slightly more than half price.

The results of a tender to purchase new government cars were revealed on Wednesday, with ministers and other top officials given the option of a BMW 528i or a Citroën C5 as their official state car.

The high consumer price of the BMW 528i in Israel, NIS 398,000 (over $100,000), led to complaints that the government was overspending. Steinitz himself was critical of the decision to include the BMW as one of the options.

It conveys “a problematic message to the public,” he said. “The criteria [for choosing a state car] should include public perception.”

The announcement that the BMWs were to be purchased at a 48 percent discount, at NIS 207,000, didn’t mollify critics of the decision.

Opposition head Shelly Yachimovich told Army Radio it was a matter of principle. Those elected by the public should not travel in a car most citizens will never be able to afford, she said.

“I drive in a regular car, and let me tell you that it works just fine,” Yachimovich said, stressing that as head of the opposition she too was eligible to receive one of the new cars, but she’d “never drive one” of the BMWs.

Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen wrote on his Facebook page that the best way to avoid purchasing the BMWs was for ministers to choose the Citroën.

The Citroën C5 will cost the government NIS 178,000.

read more: