Italian govenment buys 19 Maserati supercars despite austerity cuts
Italy may be in the midst of a savage austerity drive but that has not stopped defence ministry officials ordering a fleet of armoured Maseratis to ferry themselves around Rome.
The delivery of the 19 top-of-the-range executive cars has raised eyebrows at a time when the country is meant to be shaving billions off its public spending.
Opposition MPs said it was it was an outrageous indulgence at a time when the defence ministry is supposed to be reducing its budget by €2.5bn (£2.2bn) over the next three years.The matter was raised in parliament by Emanuele Fiano, an MP from the opposition Democratic Party. "At a time when millions of Italians are being affected by a very serious economic crisis, is there good reason for the defence minister to feel it necessary to add 19 armoured Maseratis to the ministry's car park?" he said.
Italian officials are notorious for their attachment to what are known colloquially as "auto blu" - vast fleets of dark blue and black limousines which carve through traffic with flashing lights and police outriders.
Ignazio La Russa, the defence minister, dismissed the row as a "witch hunt" by the opposition and said the cars had been paid for with money out of the 2008-2009 budget, before swingeing cuts were announced in the summer by Silvio Berlusconi's government....MORE