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Italy auctions government cars

Offers started rolling in today on unneeded government Alfa Romeo, Lancia and BMW cars, which prime minister Matteo Renzi is auctioning off on eBay as a sign of his seriousness in tackling government waste.

Renzi has pledged to sell 151 vehicles by April 16, saying he was taking a cue from the former mayor of Florence - himself - who auctioned off four cars early in his term. Besides cashing in, the government will save on upkeep, maintenance and running costs.

Within hours of the first cars going up on eBay, a 2009 BMW 525 with 87,714 miles on the clock was fetching 13,050 euros (£10,796) while a 2007 Alfa Romeo 166 with 78,739 miles on the clock was going for 6,150 euros (£5,088).

Both cars were previously owned by the Interior Ministry. Successful bidders must pick them up, according to the site.

The government intends to put 25 cars from various ministries a week up for auction, and is placing strict limits on how many government cars will remain in service.

A perceived surplus of official cars has long been a source of outrage among ordinary Italians - especially as they have been forced to make sacrifices during Italy's long economic crisis. Renzi's predecessors in Rome have reduced the number of official cars almost by half, to 6,200, in the last four years.

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