THE Parliamentary Opposition Group has called on the Prime Minister to move to the official residence of the Prime Minister better known as the Red House at Vavaea Ridge overlooking Central Honiara.
In a press statement, Thursday, the Opposition group said the Prime Minister must do so now by moving out from his private government rented residence to the PM’s official residence.
“It is timely the Prime Minister stop making lame excuses to justify his personal interests as reason to keep occupying his privately owned residence at the expense of tax-payers.”
The Opposition said already there is mounting dissatisfaction from members of the public who have voiced their concerns and disappointments over the Prime Minister’s continued defilement of public opinion for his cunning tactics.
The Opposition said, citizens have voiced their disagreements in the social and local media arguing that the national leader of the country had been acting recklessly for more than a year now by renting his private home at public expense.
The Opposition said such action portrays the true colours of a leader who is irresponsible and self-serving.
In view of that the Parliamentary Opposition has challenged the Prime Minister to move out from his private residence and into his official residence as stipulated under the Parliamentary Entitlement Regulations (PER) cap 33 which clearly stated that there is an official Prime Minister’s residence, the Prime Minister must reside in.
In this case, it is the Red House.
The Opposition Group pointed out the if the Prime Minister occupies his official residence at the Red House, he must relinquish his rental privileges 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 Parliamentary Entitlement Regulations.”
It said the least the PM could do is to humble himself and vacate his Lunga private home by moving into the Red House.
The 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 stay in to justify the Speaker’s occupation of the Red House is a lame dug excuse.
“The OPMC must know 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 added 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.
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.