Steinitz: Ministers Don't Need BMWs

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is seeking to cancel the results of a tender for new BMW cars to be provided for government ministers.

David Lev ,

Minister Steinitz
Minister Steinitz
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is seeking to cancel the results of a tender for new cars to be provided for government ministers, after sharp criticism in the media on the luxury cars to be provided to the ministers, consisting mostly of BMW models. According to the tender, the government is set to purchase 50 of the vehicles, which in Israel sell for NIS 400,000 ($115,000). In addition to the BMW vehicles, an additional number of Citroen C5 cars will be purchased.

Results of the tender were released Wednesday afternoon, and by Wednesday night the story dominated headlines in the Israeli media. Among the critics was Labor Party head MK Shelly Yechimovich, who in an interview said that she “wasn't surprised. The choice of luxury cars for the ministers shows the shamelessness of the government. These cars are not only unnecessary for the ministers, but is actually embarrassing for them.”

On Wednesday night, Steinitz requested that Doron Cohen, Director of the Finance Ministry, to examine the possibility of canceling the tender. A spokesperson for the Ministry said that Steinitz “does not believe that ministers in the government of Israel should be driving around in flashy cars.” The fact that a certain amount had been allocated for purchase of the cars did not mean that all the money needed to be used, the spokesperson said.

However, a source in the Ministry said that the tender might remain intact after all; since the importer of BMW into Israel was selected as the winner of the tender, the government would have to pay a penalty in order to cancel it, thus requiring the government to possibly spend more on the penalty and a different car model than it would have spent in the first place.

The Israeli importer of BMW had no comment.