Lao EconomyRules and Law

Lao Leaders Return Their Luxury Cars

Source: Vientiane Times

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith on Tuesday handed in his BMW 7 Series, following up on a promise made by the country’s leaders that they will no longer drive expensive luxury vehicles in an attempt to exercise frugality.

President Bounnhang Vorachit, who is Secretary General of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, was also expected to give back his BMW 7 Series yesterday, an official at the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of state vehicle affairs said. The return of the luxury cars comes after the government issued a newly-amended Prime Ministerial Decree on January 5 concerning the provision and management of vehicles for high-level leaders. The amendment ordered spending cuts on vehicles, petrol and maintenance.

The four-page amended decree cuts luxury cars from the list of those to be given to leading officials so they can no longer drive expensive brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

‘The Prime Minister handed in his BMW [7 Series] yesterday. His Excellency Bounnhang will also hand in his BMW [7 Series] today,” the official told V ientiane Times .

The prime minister now drives a Toyota Camry 2.5 and President Bounnhang will be allocated the same model untill new Camry 3.5 sedans are purchased for them.

Mr Thongloun said previously that Party and government leaders had agreed not to drive luxury cars and to set an example when it comes to frugality.

The BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles used by leaders will be sold through a bidding process and replaced by cheaper brands such as Toyota.

Fifteen S-Class Mercedes-Benz and another 21 E-Class Mercedes-Benz have been purchased for use in state affairs such as receiving foreign guests, while some have been provided for top-ranking officials.

Some 10 S-Class Mercedes-Benz will be retained for use in state affairs, while the remaining 26 Mercedes-Benz will be sold, the official said.

The fleet also includes 11 BMW 7 Series driven by current and former members of the Party Politburo including five who have retired. However, it is unclear whether the BMWs retained by retired Politburo members will be handed back.

The amended decree categorises four levels of leaders, with the top level comprising members of the Politburo who are to be allocated three types of 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 said the Camry 3.5 sedans will be purchased for top and second-level leaders. The third and fourth level leaders [ministers and deputy ministers] will be provided with a Camry 2.5 and 2.0 respectively.

Three jeeps will be provided to each ministry or equivalent state organisation for use in state affairs. A jeep will not be provided to third and fourth level leaders individually.

Excessive vehicles provided to leaders previously will be taken back. Leaders who are transferred to a new workplace but continue to hold the same level of position are required to use the vehicles they were given previously. Those who are transferred to a new-level position will be given a vehicle in keeping with their new post, but the vehicles provided previously must be left at their original workplace.

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. Fourth-level leaders will not be given a vehicle upon their retirement.

Under the amended decree, top-level leaders [Politburo members] will be given 500 litres of petrol a month, second-level leaders will be given350 litres a mo nth, third level leaders will receive 300 litres a month and the fourth level will receive 200 litres a month. Policy for issuing vehicles to leading officials whose rank is lower than these four levels will be drawn up in a separate regulation. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance have been assigned to enforce the amended decree, which replaces the previous one issued in May 2001 .