Italy's cash-strapped govt sells luxury state cars on eBay

ROME (AFP) - Italy's cash-strapped government has raised more than 370,000 euros (S$640,000) by selling 52 luxury cars owned by the state through online auction site eBay, the prime minister's office has said.

On the first day of sales, Rome managed to sell executive vehicles worth 371,400 euros from the sale of "auto blu" cars, the name given to those owned by ministers and state officials.

The sell-off was sanctioned by the new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

He has pledged to produce government savings of up to seven million euros, but the sell-off of part of the state's fleet of cars was seen as highly symbolic, an attempt to reduce the costs of the political class which has been tainted by corruption scandals.

More than one million people had visited eBay to view the cars which had been put up for sale. Among the vehicles on offer were Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Audis.

The vehicles belonged to the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defence.

The next sale of state vehicles, again via eBay, takes place on April 28 and will include eight state-owned Maseratis being put up for auction.

A statement from the Chigi Palace, the prime minister's official residence, said "the cars auctioned were selected from among those that the government no longer deemed essential".

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