The Penang chief minister’s new official car, which replaces the one bought in 2013.

GEORGE TOWN: An economist said the Penang government’s purchase of a RM458,000 new official car for the chief minister is extravagant and unnecessary during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramon Navaratnam said he was shocked to learn of the lavish spending by Penang, which prides itself for fiscal prudence.

Yesterday, the state government said it had bought a Mercedes-Benz S560e to replace the chief minister’s previous official car, a Mercedes S300L bought in 2013.

Navaratnam said it was the wrong time to buy a new car as it “appeared to show indifference to the welfare of the public and the poor who are going through a trying period”.

“There are people without enough food on the table, and there are not enough hospital beds during this pandemic.

“I’m surprised that Penang, a progressive and sophisticated state, would follow along the lines of wastage and fiscal indiscipline.

“This is a poor indication of their quality of thinking and negates the good policies they have. They have to be aware that the voting public is keeping a close watch,” he told FMT.

Navaratnam, a former treasury deputy secretary-general, said Putrajaya should issue a guideline on what kind of vehicle menteris besar and chief ministers should be allowed to buy.

“There is no doubt the chief minister needs a good car, but not a luxury car. Buy a local car, set some guidelines. The federal government should impose a cap on luxury car purchases,” he said.



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