THE Parliamentary Opposition has called on the government to make a sufficient budgetary allocation for the Prime Minister’s official residence project in this year’s budget and speed up necessary arrangements for work to begin on the project.
“It is important that a sufficient budgetary allocation is made in the 2018 Budget for the Prime Minister’s official residence project and that relevant ministries speed up work arrangements for the this important project avoid the issue of the Prime Minister living in his private residence or being accommodated in expensive hotels.”
He said the temporary arrangement for the Prime Minister to be accommodated at the Heritage Park Hotel to allow his private residence, where he has been living since his election last November, for renovations to meet security and protocol requirements could have been avoided had successive governments prioritised the Prime Minister’s official residence project.
The Opposition Leader said the Opposition welcomes the Prime Minister’s prudent decision in opting for a reduced $490,000 bid for the renovation works to his private residence over a $2million bid.
He said the Prime Minister has demonstrated commitment to his election promise to ensure fiscal discipline across government sectors and the Opposition commends him for leading by example.
The Opposition Leader added that suitable permanent sites must be allocated for the proposed new Prime Minister’s Official residence together with the proposed Official Residence of the Speaker of Parliament and other constitutional post-holders.
He suggested that the government seriously considers working on a plan to have the Official Residence of the Prime Minister and the principal Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, all housed under one roof.
“This would not only meet security and protocol requirements, but will also serve as a convenient place where important meetings of Cabinet can be held and where the Prime Minister can receive and entertain foreign leaders and dignitaries.
“It will also save the Prime minister precious time that is normally spent navigating through lengthy traffic jams in Honiara. The home can then have historical significance to future generations of Solomon Islanders.
“It is also equally important that the official residence of other constitutional post-holders including the Speaker of National Parliament are built on ideal permanent sites within the crown boundaries to avoid having to relocate these state houses in the future.”