Last Saturday was special day for Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and the staffs of the PM office. The day was marked by the ceremony of the decommissioning of the old building and the ground breaking of the new building.
Prime Minister Salwai’s speech:
“At the outset let me join the Master of Ceremony to thank you for accepting our invitation and to welcome you to the PMO Premises to witness this special event today.
It is my great honor as the Head of the current Executive to address you this morning on this historical occasion to mark the official ground breaking and launching of the Extension of the Prime Ministers Office project.
The Prime Minister’s Office buildings which we will be decommissioning and allow for its full demolition dates back to pre-independence days, and was used as the former French Resident High Commissioners office. After independence, the office was handed over to the newly established government and used as the official premises of the Prime Ministers Office until early this year when we had to sadly vacate it temporarily to allow for the construction works to commence.
I am informed that consultations for this new project commenced in 2010. Two design options were provided by the China International Engineering Corporation. The first option calls for the demolition of all current buildings within the PMO premises.
In 2013 this option was found not to be suitable for the Government because the structure which currently houses the Prime Ministers Office and cabinet support staff, the Office of the Parliamentary Secretary and the Department of Strategic Policy Planning and Aid Coordination is considered a historic building and will not be permissible to be demolished.
Further the second option which proposed the construction of a new building beside the entrance of the PMO compound is not suitable also, given its proximity to public access, thus it was not favourably considered.
The Government therefore proposed to demolish the two story building and the one storey building behind the main PMO building and build a new building on the same site. The said buildings housed the Vanuatu Public Service Commission, the State Law Office, the Government Remuneration Tribunal, the Vanuatu Languages Department and the Citizenships Office.
Government further decided that the new building will also house the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Vanuatu Project Management Unit which are also departments under the Prime Ministers Office but are currently located out of the PMO premises.
A design survey was undertaken from October –November 2013. In October 28th 2014, the preliminary design documents were forwarded to Government for consideration. In January 2015, Government acknowledged receipt of the preliminary design for the extension of the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Chinese side agreed to demolish the existing one two – floor building and one floor building and car parking shed behind the U shape building, to allow for the new Prime Ministers Office building to be built on the same site comprising a three floor office building which consists of the Prime Ministers Office and auxiliary building.
I am glad to announce that this is a grant assistance provided under an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the two Governments of China and Vanuatu signed on January 13, 2013.
The Government and people of Vanuatu are grateful for this grant assistance provided by the Government and people of China in addition to the other support that you have provided to Vanuatu and its people.
The Chinese Governments agreement to assist us with the funding and construction of the Office of the Head of Executive, is a clear sign of the very strong relations that has been forged between our two sides. The Government of Vanuatu will ensure that this good relations is maintained and will do its utmost to see the relations grow from strength to strength.
Before I close I would like to acknowledge the custodians of this land who have supported the government all throughout the years and continue to support it by allowing for this important undertaking to continue as we witnessed earlier through the custom ceremony performed.
I further wish to acknowledge former leaders who have worked in this premises taking Vanuatu to where it is today. I wish to thank them and acknowledge them for the vision to have a new building to house agencies under the Prime Ministers Office to cut costs and ensure better and effective service delivery to our key stakeholders and customers.
Last but not the least I acknowledge the presence of Ms Wang Qin Ji, the General Manager of China State Construction Corporation Ltd who have been contracted to build our new office. Thank you for making time to be with us today to witness this historical ground breaking ceremony. I wish you and your team success in this major undertaking.