The Finance Ministry on Thursday shot back at accusations of overspending on cars for cabinet ministers, saying that BMW and Citroen won the government contract only because they offered the government substantial discounts.

The BMW 528i, which usually sells for NIS 400,000, was offered for NIS 207,000 instead, the ministry said. The Citroen C5, on the other hand, offered a discount of only 13%, but is cheaper to begin with.

The Finance Ministry on Wednesday announced that the official vehicle of cabinet ministers will be either these two models.

The move came after the importers of these models won a state tender. According to the ministry, the tender parameters included security, pollution criteria, typical usage by ministers and other persons in high office and, finally, the discount importers offered on the models against their market prices.

The choice is “ostentatious and proves the lack of shame of this government,” Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich said.

It is “not surprising,” she added, that the government “chose the most expensive car in the tender...and it is just another proof of this government’s dissociation from the public it is intended to serve. While young couples can only dream of buying an apartment, suffer worsening conditions at work and the cost of living continues to skyrocket, it wouldn’t hurt government ministers to show some humility.”

Following criticism from Yechimovich and others, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz instructed his ministry to examine whether the tender could be canceled. He said the criteria for choosing an official vehicle should not only include their cost but also the car model’s image. The BMW 528i is a luxury vehicle and its market price is almost NIS 400,000.

Steinitz asked the Finance Ministry’s director-general to examine whether it would be legal to publish a new tender that would cap the maximum price of the model selected.

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