Cabinet mulls acquisition of PICC for new parliament complex

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet is mulling a suggestion to acquire the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) as the site for the new Parliament complex but would only make a final decision after considering cost estimates for the move, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said.

At a press conference in parliament's lobby on Wednesday, June 16, Nazri took great pains to explain that no final decision had been made on the matter as the Cabinet was still awaiting a complete report by the Public Works Department (PWD) on how costly and feasible the move would be.

The proposed relocation of Parliament had met with fierce criticism after it was earlier revealed that the construction of a new building would cost an estimated RM800 million.

Nazri, who is in charge of legislation and parliamentary affairs, reiterated on Wednesday that the Cabinet had decided that the construction of new premises at that price was "out of the question".

The current Parliament complex, which was completed in 1962, comprises a three-storey main building which houses the Dewan Negara and the Dewan Rakyat as well as an 18-storey office block for ministers and members of parliament.

According to Nazri, PICC was proposed as a potential site for Parliament after the PWD estimated that some RM150 million would have to be spent to repair the current legislative complex in Kuala Lumpur, which underwent a RM90 million renovation five years ago.

He added the PWD had also estimated RM50 million would be needed to renovate a temporary location for parliament if its existing premises were to undergo upgrading works.

"We (the Cabinet) also think it is a waste to spend RM50 million on something temporary... The preferred choice for the majority in the Cabinet is to take over the PICC building because it is there and it is under-utilised. We will just need to spend on (internal renovations) and whatever we spend will be for something permanent," Nazri said.

Nazri also said the PICC facility had been unable to generate sufficient revenue to cover its RM600 million construction costs, adding he was told that PICC only made RM2 million in profits last year.

Nazri said the government wanted to buy over PICC because "parliament cannot be renting" its buildings.

PICC is owned by Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd, the master developer of the country's administrative capital. The convention centre sits atop a hill in Putrajaya's Precinct 5.

To another question, Nazri said the proposed relocation of parliament would not be tabled and debated in the Dewan Rakyat as this was an "administrative decision" with the Cabinet having the final say.

Nazri, who is Padang Rengas MP, said the present parliament house would not be demolished as it was a heritage building but Cabinet had yet to decide on plans for the building if Parliament were to move.- The Edge Financial Daily
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