The BMWs are all here
Guyana Chronicle
February 22, 2007

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THE full fleet of 20 BMW luxury vehicles that was scheduled to arrive in Guyana before the upcoming Rio Group Summit and especially for the major Cricket World Cup (CWC) tournament is already here.

The elegant 2007-model vehicles began arriving in Guyana last week, with the final seven arriving over the week-end, according to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Dr. Frank Anthony.

Minister Anthony, along with the Permanent Secretary of his Ministry Mr. Keith Booker, yesterday afternoon inspected the BMWs parked in the compound of the former National Printers Ltd at Industrial Site, Ruimveldt.

“All the vehicles are here, a number of SUVs and the regular cars and we will be taking possession of them shortly,” Minister Anthony told the Guyana Chronicle shortly after his looking over the vehicles.

“These BMWs will firstly be used for the upcoming Rio Summit and after that we will be using them for Cricket World Cup. Then the Government will be selling them,” he said.

With regard to transportation for the CWC event, Anthony said Guyana has meet its obligations and are in “good stead” in this area.

“The 20 BMWs would be quite adequate to move around the VIPs for the World Cup. We also have a number of buses that are contracted for the players…so in terms of transportation obligations that we have for CWC, we think we are in good stead,” he posited.

The vehicles were brought here by the newly-formed company, Prestige Motors Inc., whose Director, Mr. Vishuk Persaud, explained to Minister Anthony, Mr. Booker and members of the media, the gamut of features on the luxury vehicles.

“These vehicles are fully loaded with some of the best safety features in terms of air bags, braking systems and traction control, parking-censor controls….seven are X3s and thirteen are 320I,” Persaud said.

He said too that the tyres on the vehicles “are such that even if you get a puncture, you can still drive on them because they carry unique features inside that could re-inflate them automatically”.

BMW International is one of the official sponsors of the CWC 2007 tournament, the world’s third largest sporting event to be held in Guyana and eight other Caribbean countries during March and April this year.

BMW sponsorship required that every host country buy at least 30 of the BMW luxury cars. Another condition was that the cars be imported into the country duty-free which means the government stands to lose millions of dollars in revenue.

The Guyana Government had initially delayed its decision on whether or not to import the vehicles , as it tried to explore other options, none of which were feasible.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had explained that government did not opt out of the deal but changed the terms.

This ‘change’ resulted in the Government being allowed to import a minimum of 20 vehicles, instead of 30.

Following Government’s decision to import the vehicles, President Jagdeo had said the BMWs will serve a dual purpose, as they will be used to transport Heads of Government and other officials during the Rio Group Summit, as well as ICC and CWC officials during the group matches in the tournament to be played here.

The Guyanese Head of State had told reporters that since the government was getting tourist buses and other vehicles, only 20 BMW vehicles were required, and not 30 or 40 as some of the other CWC host countries were acquiring.

This newspaper also understands that the government’s initial apprehension about the offer concerned objections by local dealers who do business with manufacturers of ‘cheaper brands’ of cars. They claimed too that only one dealer stood to benefit.

President Jagdeo had indicated that the local dealer wanted the government to import the vehicles and waive 75% of the taxes, or some $400 million in taxes, which "would have led to a windfall to their dealer here."

He said the government instead opted to buy the vehicles and sell them back on the local market, "with the taxes”, which will ensure that the cost of the vehicles plus taxes will be recovered.

He said the vehicles would be sold to Guyanese on a ‘bid system’ after the CWC tournament. .