PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela and Madame Rachel have moved out from their private residence and are currently residing temporarily at the Heritage Park Hotel.
The Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) announced this arrangement in a media statement yesterday.
The temporary arrangement is necessary to allow required renovations to their private residence to meet security and protocol requirements.
The government currently does not have an Official Residence for the Prime Minister following the demolition of the former Red House which was the Official Residence of the Prime Minister.
Since his election as Prime Minister in November last year, Prime Minister Hou has been residing at his private residence; however, it does not meet security and protocol requirements for a Prime Minister.
Engineers from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) have estimated the initial cost of the renovations at more than SBD$2 million but Mr Houenipwela has rejected the assessment saying that the amount is too costly.
“We should only do what is absolutely necessary, but this price is too excessive and unjustified,” Hou said in the statement.
As such, another contractor had been engaged to complete the necessary work at a much more reasonable cost of SB$490,000 at a projected timeframe.
Meanwhile, the OPMC has acknowledged that the current situation which the Government has no official residence for the Prime Minister is causing a lot of inconvenience.
“In fact the Prime Minister considered moving into the Red House or a designated residence for the Prime Minister but was advised by MID that the property had already been demolished because it is infested with termites, and that the Government does not have a designated residence for the Prime Minister at this stage,” the OPMC statement said.
The statement says that given the enormity of the work before him, Prime Minister Hou is eager to settle down in his home quickly.
“Given the amount of work ahead, I want to settle down quickly into our residence,” the Prime Minister said.