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Cadres lose out on Benz, BMW

CHINA'S central government departments have no plans to buy BMW or Mercedes-Benz vehicles for official fleets, despite the fact that the brands were on the list of possible purchases, the Procurement Center of the Central People's Government said yesterday.

The state aims to cut this year's vehicle expense for government and Communist Party of China organizations by 15 percent from the previous three years' average as part of a cost-reduction drive, the center said.

The central government won't replace most cars and will only buy new cars for new officials or to replace vehicles that are heavy polluters, the center said.

"So central government organs have no plan to buy BMW or Mercedes-Benz cars at present," the center said.

Established in 2003, the center is a procurement agency for the central government's ministries and other organs.

The two luxury car makers joined 36 other automobile brands on the procurement list of "official" vehicles for 2009-2010.

The two listed manufacturers are BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd and Beijing Benz-Daimlerchrysler Automotive Co, both of which are joint venture companies based in China.

"All nine models of BMW and Benz listed in the procurement catalogue were domestically made," the center said.

Being on the list means only that the manufacturers are qualified; it doesn't indicate an intention to buy, it added.

The government has also taken the lead in buying domestic cars, the center said, with purchases of more than 1,000 cars from homegrown firms.

The state has sought to cut its vehicle pool in recent years. Since 2004, the central government has readjusted the vehicle quotas of 95 central government agencies, according to the center. During that process, 721 vehicles were deemed as excessive or extravagant, and the total number of central government official vehicles fell 30 percent.

Spending on central government vehicles fell 22.5 percent in 2008, according to the center.

The central government also changed its official car requirements to reflect the "improved quality" and falling prices of domestic cars.

Ministers and provincial heads should have cars with an engine displacement of no more than 3 liters and a price below 450,000 yuan (US$65,832). For a vice minister, the car should be priced below 350,000 yuan.



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