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Govt sells off premium cars amid frugality campaign

Zhu Xingxin and Su Zhou
Updated: Jan 26,2015 7:40 AM     China Daily

The first round of government car auctions was held at Yayuncun Vehicle Trading Market in Beijing on Jan 25, with 106 vehicles going under hammer. Since the introduction of government car reforms, 3,184 vehicles have been impounded. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily]

The first group of premium government automobiles to be auctioned off amid the ongoing frugality campaign have gone under the hammer in Beijing.

According to Zonto Auction, the 106 vehicles it sold on Jan 25 were from six central government departments including the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, China Securities Regulatory Commission and State Bureau for Letters and Calls.

The cars were without plates, which would have to be supplied by the purchasers.

A total of 505 bidders from around the country joined the auction, which brought in proceeds of 6.6 million yuan ($980,000).

The highest bid went to a Toyota cross country vehicle for 200,000 yuan.

Li Guanwen, 40, of Hebei province, bought a Skoda bus for 160,000 yuan.

“The market value of this bus is around 500,000 yuan,” said Li.

“I think the reform of official vehicles is a very good thing and is a very good approach to remind civil servants to cut costs and to serve the public well.”

In November 2013, public agencies were told to cut their vehicle fleets, as well as reduce receptions and overseas trips. The use of all vehicles, except those required for law enforcement, emergency duties and essential public services, were scrapped or severely reduced.

Two more auctions with 198 vehicles are scheduled for Jan 26 and Feb 1.

A total of 3,184 official vehicles impounded by the central government are waiting to be dealt with.

The money raised will go to the central treasury and the process will be watched by the auditing agency, discipline inspection agency and the public, said Xu Yongsheng, deputy head of the National Government Offices Administration’s state assets management division.

“This is the first auction after the nation’s official vehicle reform, and efforts have been made to ensure transparency during the process,” said Xu. “Information and an evaluation about every car can be checked online and supervised by the public.”

Ye Min, president of Zonto, said about 6,000 people came to the preview from Jan 23 to Jan 25.

“I think this showed that the public’s reaction to the official vehicle reform is quite positive,” Ye said. “And the secondhand car market also has great potential.”

The fact that the cars had no plates affected the enthusiasm of Beijing citizens who have to get a plate through a lottery, Ye said.