Senior government minister blocking MRD’s new lease agreement
By Alfred Sasako
A senior Government Minister is reportedly blocking the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) from moving out of a converted motel building which the Government is leasing at $245,000-a-month.
The building at Ranadi in East Honiara also houses the offices of the 50 constituencies.
Insiders told Island Sun on Friday 26th October the Minister has been arguing for the renewal of the lease agreement, which is due to lapse at the end of the month.
“He has argued consistently both in Caucus and in Cabinet for the renewal of the existing lease, which is contrary to cost-saving measures the government is promoting,” one insider told Island Sun on last Friday.
“Everyone in Cabinet and Caucus knows the Minister’s position is influenced by politics – he assumes the new Landlord is supporting a candidate who will be contesting his seat at the National General Election next year,” the insider said.
Two months ago the MRD signed a two-year lease with a new Landlord, whose building is located in Honiara’s Central Business District (CBD). The new premises will cost $150,000 a month ($95,000 a month less than the current lease).
As a result of the Minister’s position, the first payment for the new premises believed to be around $600,000, which includes the bond, has been held up at the Treasury.
“The Minister’s position has placed the MRD in a very awkward position. On one hand it has already entered into a new and binding lease agreement with a new Landlord, while on the other hand the Minister wants to renew the current agreement,” one insider said.
“The MRD is now faced with a huge problem on its hands. Unless there is political intervention at the highest level, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight,” the insider said.
It is understood the owner of the Ranadi premises is now offering the lease at $190,000 a month.