Government’s expensive rental deal during covid-19 questioned
By EDDIE OSIFELO
An excessive tenancy agreement signed recently between the owner of the Melanesian Haus and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) is being questioned.
The office rental deal is said to house the Infrastructure Development Unit which was previously accommodated at the Hyundai Mall Building.
Questioning the rental deal, Opposition Leader Matthew Wale said that the new tenancy agreement provides for the rental at $280,000, doubling the rental at Hyundai Mall of $140,000.
Mr Wale says this is unnecessary and uncalled for especially when the Government should be cutting down on expenditure, investing more in growing the domestic economy and safeguarding the population from covid-19.
He said the decision to entertain the agreement is a slap on the face of the DCGA Re-direction Policy intentions.
“The decision was said to be an executive one shoved down the throat of the Infrastructure Development Unit to move to Melanesian Haus from Hyundai Mall,” says Wale.
The Opposition Leader described this move as irrational and shrouded by all indications of a corrupt deal, adding that this is suspicious and must be investigated.
Wale says, “Space cannot be a reason because the Public Service Ministry had already cease all recruitments.”
He urged the DCGA to be serious in implementing its policies especially in monitoring government expenditure.
“Otherwise, the much talked about re-direction plan will only be mere lip service. Given the apparent contradictions between the agreement and policy intentions, the agreement features as one of the most corrupt agreements out there that requires the DCGA government to address,” the Opposition Leader adds.
The Opposition leader therefore warns that brushing it aside will not help in overall efforts in redirecting the country away from corruption and therefore calls on the responsible ministries to investigate it.
Permanent Secretary of MID, Stephen Maesiola, meanwhile refutes Wale’s claimed rental amount of $280,000 saying that it is instead $200,000 per month.
“The rental at Melanesia Haus is $200,000 per month.”
Maesiola said the reason to move to Melanesia Haus was because the landlord at Hyundai Mall was very strict on rental and working hours which really affected the work of the engineers.
“If the ministry doesn’t pay rentals, the landlord would lock the doors from my staffs.
“Also, the landlord only allows my staff to work until 8pm from Monday to Friday and close the office during weekends,” he said.
Maesiola said his engineers were working in a small room at Hyundai compared to Melanesia Haus in which they occupy the whole two-storey building.
“We currently have 50 staff in the Infrastructure Development Unit, therefore they need big space to do their work.
“The staff of JICA and ADB are also working alongside my staff in the building for the upcoming infrastructure projects,” he said.
Maesiola said currently the ministry finds it hard to rent any building in town for his staff.
He said it is important to provide conducive environment for his staff to do their work.