THE Parliamentary Opposition Group has reiterated the call for the Prime Minister to move out from his private residence and move into the Red House.
The Opposition Group in a statement yesterday questioned why the Prime Minister has been so tightlipped over his decision to remain in his private residence whilst the Speaker occupies the Red House.
The statement said it has been over a year now since the Prime Minister has been residing in his private home; with no proper justification given.
Such action, the Opposition said only portrays the true characteristics of an irresponsible and self-serving leader.
“The Opposition is reiterating its call for the Prime Minister to move out of his private residence and into his official residence as per the Parliamentary Entitlement Regulations (PER) cap 33 which clearly stated that there is an official Prime Minister’s residence that the Prime Minister must reside in,” it said.
The Opposition Group statement highlighted that the PER also stated that when residing at the Red House, the Prime Minister also relinquishes his privileges of rental and other related tax obligations.
“As one of the longest serving members of parliament (MP), the Prime Minister is well aware that his choice of staying at his private residence is contrary to the spirit of the PER. The least he could do is humble himself and vacate his Lungga house and move into the Red House. Former Prime Ministers have done so, why can’t he do it,” the statement said.
The Opposition statement said the excuse given by the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) in stating that the Speaker of Parliament does not have a house to reside in to justify the Speaker’s occupation of the Red House is a lame excuse.
“The OPMC must understand that under the Constitutional Offices (Terms and Conditions of Services) Act (Cap 84) and the Constitutional Offices (Terms and Conditions of Services) (Speaker)(Amendment) Regulations 2013; the Speaker of Parliament is entitled to a $12,000.00 per month rental allowance if he is not provided with an official resident free of rent,” it said.
The Opposition statement adds that Regulations 6 as amended also states that ‘The Speaker shall be provided with an official residence free of rent or in the absence of a rent free accommodation and at the option of the officer; he shall receive a housing allowance of $12,000.00 per month’.
“The law is very clear that in the event that the Speaker has not been provided with an official residence free of rent. There is provision under our law in this case Cap 84 and regulations 6 of the Constitutional Offices (Terms and Conditions of Services) (Speaker)(Amendment) Regulations 2013 that should automatically apply and that a house should be rented for the Speaker,” it said.
However, the Opposition statement says this was not the case as the Prime Minister has irresponsibly chosen to give away his official residence to the Speaker so that the Prime Minister could reside in his private home.
“The intent of the PER and the constitutional offices terms and conditions Act is very clear and the decision and action taken by the Prime Minister, is to defy and undermine that intent. The action by the Prime Minister also undermines the integrity and reputation of the office he occupies,” the Opposition said.
“As such, the Opposition Group holds the view that the action taken by the Prime Minister to continue to reside at his private residence rather than at the designated official residence of the Prime Minister at Vavaya Ridge may best be described as an abuse of lawful regulations,” it said.
“All legal explanations aside, the Prime Minister as a leader must be honest with the people of this country and himself, that he is insisting on residing in his private residence because he has a personal direct interest in it,” the statement said.
Therefore, the Opposition Group challenged the Prime Minister insisting that to show good and ethical leadership in such circumstances; the best option that should be taken by the Prime Minister is to advice the Speaker to rent an accommodation as he is entitled to a monthly housing allowance; and for the Prime Minister to humbly move into the Red House.