15 May 2017

High rental bill for Solomons' ministry questioned

8:23 pm on 15 May 2017

The opposition in Solomon Islands has questioned moving the offices of the Ministry of Rural Development to a building which costs twice in rent.

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Photo: RNZI/Koroi Hawkins

Rural Development Minister Jimson Tanangada had earlier defended the move saying the old ministry building could no longer house the growing ministry which now has 200 staff.

But the latest revelations by the minister, after intense public and parliamentery pressure, of the actual cost of the move has infuriated the opposition.

The ministry's previous offices, which were centrally located in the capital Honiara, cost around $US 16,600 per month whereas the new offices, which are located quite a way from the CBD cost almost $US31,000 per month.

View towards Point Cruz and the Port of Honiara.

View towards Point Cruz and the Port of Honiara. Photo: RNZI/Koroi Hawkins

In a statement the opposition said the move made no economic sense in light of the government's ongoing struggle to deliver basic services and to meet its financial obligations.

It said it understood that the government's budgetary allocation for property rentals in 2017 has already been exhausted in the first quarter of the year.

It said this was not surprising if ministries like rural development were paying more than $US 370,000 a year just to rent office space.

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