Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Jakarta. In a surprising but likely welcome turn of events, the House leadership announced on Thursday that the construction of the controversial new building for lawmakers would be postponed.
House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie said no construction would be done this year as the budget for the project may be decreased further after undergoing another review.
The announcement was made after a closed-door meeting between the Household Affairs Committee (BURT) and the House’s Secretariat General technical team, which has been tasked with reviewing the plan.
The technical team made recommendations to lower the new building’s total budget from Rp 1.8 trillion ($200 million) to Rp 1.3 trillion ($145 million).
“We hope they can decrease it to around Rp 1.2 trillion ($135 million),” Marzuki said.
“We have ordered the team to conduct another review to decrease the budget again.”
He explained that the original budget was drawn up by the Public Works Ministry based on a price list regulated by a ministerial decree.
“We urged them to use actual prices,” he said, adding that this would result in big savings.
And although the building design would not be revised, the House speaker demanded the reduction of the interior design budget.
“Furniture from the current building could be relocated to the new building. It could save us a lot of money,” he said.
Marzuki added the new review would take time.
“I said firmly that the new building should not be built this year,” he said.
The cancellation of the construction must officially be agreed upon in a plenary meeting first, however.
As soon as the technical team finished its review, Marzuki said all House factions would meet and make the final decision.
“It’s not a problem for the House leadership if the plan was postponed until next year, he said.
“And even if the plan is totally aborted, then it’s not a problem, as long as all factions agree with it and it’s decided through a plenary meeting. ”
He added there is a possibility that the plan can be canceled.
Marzuki’s announcement came two days after he said that the construction will push through and will start in October.
Marzuki had previously defended the House’s resistance to changing the plan by saying the building design had been decided upon before he was elected speaker in 2009.
The plan outlined a new 36-story building that would provide spacious 120-square-meter office suites for each lawmaker.
News of the building having a special floor for recreation with a swimming pool and a health spa had sparked public outrage.