Business, Finance & Economics

Looking for a slick new ride? Italy's government has got a deal for you

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The Italian government's official eBay store. March 28, 2014.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed to clean up government in a country with a well-known history of corruption. In his latest stand against excess, his administration has opened its own eBay store to auction off officials' cars that are now deemed unnecessary. 

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But these aren't just any old government sedans — Italy's officials have been chauffeured around in BMWs, Jaguars, and Maseratis, some of the most expensive cars on the market.  

"We're not talking about your average Fiat Punto," says Naomi O'Leary, a journalist with Reuters in Rome.  

The government is set to auction off 151 luxury cars over the next few weeks. Among the cars being sold, according to Italian media, are Maseratis bought by Silvo Berlusconi's government just before its collapse during the Euro crisis in 2011.

That purchase set off a "minor scandal" in Italy, according to O'Leary. 

The Jaguars and Maseratis are not for sale just yet, but the cars that are already up for auction have generated some attention from bidders. O'Leary says the Alfa Romeo cars could sell for about 8,000 euros and the BMWs could sell for about 15,000 euros. 10,000 euros are worth about $13,750.

But these cars can sell for much higher prices. When they are fresh off the showroom floor, like when the government purchased them, they sell for closer to 100,000 euros. 

While the auction may generate a bit of cash, and save some because there will be fewer chauffeurs to pay, that wasn't Renzi's primary goal.

"The reason the new prime minister is doing this," O'Leary explains, "is beacuse there has been a lot of public pressure and demand for cuts to the kind of privileges that politicians enjoy."

O'Leary says entirely taking away cars from civil servants and having them take mass transit like everyone else might even be a popular idea.

She says there is "great public anger at what is seen as the elite class — the politicians."

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