Egypt government halts luxury cars purchase following public outcry

Egypt government halts luxury cars purchase following public outcry
The Egyptian government has halted the purchase of luxury cars for top officials following public outrage amid measures during a struggling economy.
3 min read
01 February, 2017
Egypt's new parliament convened for the first time in January 2016.

Egypt has halted the purchase of luxury cars for top officials following public outcry over the government's violation of the country's austerity measures amid a struggling economy.

The purchase of cars for ministers and MPs, which will be handled by the General Authority of Government Services (GAGS), will now be limited to Hyundai Verna, a cheaper average model.

However, cars for members of parliament are outside the central purchasing system of the GAGS, sources told Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.

The decision comes one day after the parliament admitted to allocating 18 million Egyptian Pounds ($950,000) to purchase three armoured vehicles for Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Al and his two deputies.

According to GAGS chief Ayman Gohar, the purchase request was made during the period between December 2015 and February 2016.

This was confirmed in a statement by the parliament's general secretariat in response to MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, who had initially raised the issue, demanding information on the allocation of millions from the parliament's budget to purchase the cars and accusing the parliament speaker of lack of transparency and misuse of public funds.

Sadat had wondered about the reasons to "burden" the parliament with such costs, from which only three members would benefit, especially since the parliament has "a fleet of cars" purchased over the previous years.

He argued that it seemed more reasonable to use them instead of buying new expensive cars, a statement issued by his press office read.

The secretariat responded in a statement released on Monday, saying that documents had shown that the request to buy the cars was made in December 2015, one month before Egypt's new parliament was elected, in which case such decisions are taken by the cabinet.

It added that it was no longer considered a luxury for the parliament's speaker and high-profile figures to be allocated with cars fitted with the most up-to-date security equipment.

"These types of cars have become a high security necessity as terrorist are now targeting senior officials by use of highly explosive bombs – as in the case of the bombing and killing of Egypt's prosecutor-general on 29 June 2015," said the statement.

This comes days after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking at a youth forum in the southern Egyptian city of Aswan, declared that Egypt was "very poor".

"Well, did anyone tell you that we are very poor?" said Sisi after his warning about evil and in response to why Egyptians are currently struggling.

On social media, Egyptians compared Sisi's statements to the government's purchase of luxury cars.

Translation: If the parliament does not hold accountable the speaker and his deputies over wasting 18 million pounds on three cars, the president must dissolve the parliament after putting the matter to a vote.

Translation: Instead of buying three armoured cars for 18 million pounds, buy beds for these patients. The parliament is all corrupt. Stop the plundering of public funds.

Translation: Egyptians, please be patient and cut your spending so the parliament speaker and his deputies can buy three cars for 18 million pounds.

Translation: How many youth unemployment cases can the cost of the parliament's new cars solve?