The controversial luxury Porsche Cayenne vehicle once used by former People’s Partnership Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath for ministerial duties is now up for sale.
In 2010, Bharath’s ministry paid $400,000 for the blue SUV, licensed PCR 100. Its original price was estimated at $925,000 but vehicles purchased by ministries and government agencies are exempt from taxes and duties.
An advertisement published in today’s newspaper by the Ministry of Finance’s Central Tenders Board invites offers for the purchase of the high-end vehicle.
A source at the ministry yesterday said Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat had not used vehicle since entering office and it was now gathering dust at the ministry and depreciating in value. Rambharat uses a Land Cruiser to conduct ministry business.
The Porsche was recently taken for evaluation by the ministry and in the advertisement it asks interested parties to either view the vehicle at the ministry’s St Clair office from Monday to Friday or send sealed bids to the Central Tenders Board by July 14.
Yesterday, well-known auctioneer, Edward Soon, said the six-year-old vehicle could fetch “around $400,000 or upward of that figure. I believe the Government would get back the money they would have put out to buy the vehicle.”
Soon said vehicles used by government ministers were usually kept in mint condition.
In January 2012, when news of vehicle’s purchase surfaced, Bharath defended the $400,000 price, saying it was not for his private use, nor extravagant and that it fell well within the average price range for ministerial vehicles. However, the purchase was condemned by then Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Within one month of defending the purchase, another vehicle driven by Bharath reportedly ran over the foot of pedestrian Marlene Williams in a hit-and-run accident along Maraval Road, Port- of-Spain.
Bharath who showed up at the St Clair Police Station in the PCR 100 to report the matter, agreed to pay compensation to Williams and settle the matter out of court.
In April, Rowley said Cabinet had decided that none of its members would access any loan to buy a luxury vehicle which fell in the new increased tax bracket.
Rowley’s announcement came immediately following Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s 50 per cent increase in taxes on luxury vehicles with engines over 1999cc in a series of sweeping tax measures.
Efforts to reach Bharath on his cellphone was unsuccessful yesterday.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Shaliza Hassanali)
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