Malawi sells expensive, controversial presidential jet for $15 million

May 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM

LILONGWE, Malawi, May 22 (UPI) -- Malawi President Joyce Banda met the first point on her austerity plan, selling the presidential jet at auction for $15 million, officials said.

The winning bid for the 14-passenger, French-made Dassault Falcon 900-EX aircraft was made by Bohnox Enterprise Ltd. of the Virgin Islands, which paid $5 million less than the plane's market value, set at $20 million, Newstime Africa of London reported.

Banda said she had determined commercial airlines would meet her official globe-trotting needs, Newstime Africa reported Wednesday.

The government of former President Bingu wa Mutharika bought the plane in 2009 for $22 million, prompting negative reactions in Malawi and abroad. Critics inside the country called for the plane to be sold because it cost taxpayers about $300,000 annually in insurance and maintenance, and the purchase prompted Britain to cut its aid to the poor county, Newstime Africa reported.

Banda in Lilongwe had asked a special cabinet committee to determine the best way to dispose of the jet. The committee said it would be less expensive to sell the plane than to lease it, the newspaper said.

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